Sarah's Southland Scoop - April 2016

Invercargill news
Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prime Minister visits the South
It was an honour to host the Prime Minister in the electorate last week. We started with a rousing kapa haka welcome from James Hargest College followed by a fantastic performance from their gold medal winning orchestra and concert band. The school is dripping with talent. I then took the PM to Rakiura. We learned about salmon and oyster farming with Sanford Limited and were very pleased to taste their first class produce! We also visited the spectacular Ulva Island with Department of Conservation staff and finished off with a wonderful kapa haka performance by Halfmoon Bay School and an intelligent Q&A session with pupils. So proud to be from the South!
Supporting small businesses
Last week the Prime Minister announced that Budget 2016 will include a positive tax package aimed at making business easier for small and medium-sized business operators. Small and medium businesses are the backbone of our community here in Southland, so these changes are welcomed. The package will make paying tax easier and more certain, will reduce the burden of interest and penalties and will assist smaller businesses to better tailor payments to their own circumstances. To find out more, and to provide comment on the proposals before they take effect visit www.makingtaxsimpler.ird.govt.nz. Submissions are requested by May 30.
Anzac Day 2016
Anzac Day is a chance for us to commemorate and honour our veterans’ contribution to the peace, freedom and security our country enjoys today. I will be attending the Invercargill RSA - Dawn Service and Wreath laying, and afterwards I will be speaking at the Awarua RSA. I encourage you to reflect on our country’s experience of war and military conflict and to honour the more than 18,000 New Zealanders who died, and over 100,000 who served their country during the Great War. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served our country to protect the ideals we hold dear. Lest we forget.
Changes to child protection and care
I was so pleased recently to hear Hon Anne Tolley announce bold changes to child care and protection. All children and young people in our community deserve to live in a safe and secure environment where they have the means to do well and take advantage of life opportunities. The reforms are essential to deliver lasting change for our at-risk children. We need to focus on the future for these children, ensuring the earliest opportunity for a loving, safe and stable home while also providing transition support into adulthood.
MAD Day Out
I am absolutely buzzing after a fantastic, fabulous and fun MAD (Mud, Adventure, Discovery) Day out at Daffodil Bay recently. It was great to see families enjoying the beautiful Southland day and making the most of the opportunity get outside and recreate! Around 1000 people joined me on the day to launch the Department of Conservation’s nationwide Healthy Nature Healthy People initiative. I’d like to thank my partners DOC, Healthy Families Invercargill and Sport Southland. I would love to hear your thoughts on whether this should be an annual event!
Around the South
I have enjoyed spending plenty of time out and about in the electorate recently.
I have visited school students and the Salvation Army to see their renovated premises in Invercargill and get an update on the services they provide in the community. I also met with the inspirational people at 1000 Days Trust – such an amazing project! The 1000 Days model aims to empower mothers and/or fathers to establish healthy and positive relationships with their children, with the tools to nurture them to reach their full potential.
I also recently enjoyed catching up with the committee of Wyndham YFC as part of the New Zealand Young Farmers at the Wyndham A&P Show. Another fabulous, sunny Southland day!
Immigration Seminar
Recently I hosted an Immigration New Zealand Seminar on regional policy changes for key stakeholders to the region, HR managers, and employers. The seminar was well attended and informative.
Southland faces some challenges moving forward as we look to attract skilled workers to fill positions while balancing the need to employ New Zealanders. I will be keeping an eye on this balance.