Sarah's Southland Scoop - December 2015

Invercargill news
Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas is only a matter of days away! The holiday season is a time to get together with family and friends, and enjoy the good things about the great Kiwi summer. I wish you and your family a happy festive season and safe holiday and I look forward to working with you all in the New Year.

Southern Institute of Technology
It was my honour to attend and welcome all of those who attended the Southern Institute of Technology graduation in Invercargill. Congratulations to all of the newly qualified graduates for having the determination to achieve a long-term goal and to the Southern Institute of Technology and its staff for having faith in the graduates and for nurturing passions and turning it into recognised skills. SIT is an asset to this region - Last year it contributed $43.4 million in GDP to the city and 73 per cent of its students completed a qualification. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the new students enrolling at SIT in the New Year.

Government Achievements
This year Parliament passed 120 bills into law. It’s been a busy year! Our flagship policy of free doctor visits and free prescriptions for children under 13 came into effect, which will provide real benefits for families. We also extended paid parental leave and we’re doing more to help children living in hardship, including increasing benefit rates for families with children by $25 a week. The economy is performing solidly after a slow start to the year - Jobs and wages are growing. Figures released in September show Southland has the highest Labour Market participation rate in the country at 73.8% compared with the national average of 68.6%.

The crime rate in Southland is continuing to decline and in fact the Southern District has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Police statistics show in 2004 there were 9437 recorded offences in Southland compared to 6569 last year – a drop of more than 2500 offences in the area.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge those who have fallen on hard times this year and for those who won’t get to spend Christmas with family for various reasons. I’d like to encourage people to remember the true meaning of Christmas and if you have the opportunity to help someone in need, I’d encourage you to do so.

My office will be closed from 23 December 2015 to 18 January 2016.