Sarah's Southland Scoop - May 2016
Later this month Finance Minister Bill English will deliver Budget 2016. Alongside a strong focus on the economy, Mr English’s eighth Budget will ensure we keep meeting the needs of New Zealand families in key areas such as health. There have been several pleasing pre-Budget announcements so far. Pharmac gets an extra $124 million over four years so it can increase access to new medicines, benefiting more New Zealanders. $39 million of that will be invested in 2016/17 financial year with Pharmac opening consultation on seven new treatments including melanoma drug Opdivo. Patients could begin getting free Opdivo from 1 July. We’re also investing $20.7 million in New Zealand’s largest pest control operation to be launched this winter to fight a pest plague which threatens vulnerable native wildlife in areas such as Fiordland. I was also very pleased to hear $41.1 million in new operating funding over the next four years for emergency housing. The Budget will be delivered on May 26.
SDHB Commissioner Team
The New Zealand Public Health and Disability (Southern DHB) Elections Bill passed in Parlimament today, extending the tenure of the Commissioner team to allow them to continue improving the DHB’s performance, living within our means and achieving a sustainable model for delivering quality healthcare across the region.
An improved deficit position of $35.9 million is now officially expected in this 2015/16 year and I am hopeful that with the continued support of hard working staff, we could get down to around $30 million next year. I am committed to the delivery of sustainable and quality healthcare in the region and will continue to work with the Commissioner’s team to ensure the success of the DHB for our people.
Kakapo Rearing Unit
I was pleased to support the Department of Conservation and Department of Corrections recently at the formal recognition of their partnership to provide conservation outcomes for Kakapo, as well as opportunities for offenders in learning new skills. The new Kakapo Rearing Unit, which opened to the public at the beginning of May, is great for the chicks as well as giving the public an opportunity to get a rare look at kakapo. As a member of the Bluegreens – National’s advisory group on environmental issues – is was a very special experience to see these beautiful birds again and especially right here in the city.
Recently I joined my colleagues of the Regional Development Caucus Committee on a visit to Blenheim. I was invited on a tour of Timberlink where work has started on a $10 million investment programme at the sawmill – an investment that will create up to 50 jobs over the next five years. We also had a tour at Wither Hills winery and CarbonScape which has pioneered a new way to use microwaves to unlock low-cost biomass into renewable, high-value carbon and chemical products. We were treated to an overview of aquaculture in Marlborough provided by the Marine Farming Association. Aquaculture is an important industry here in Southland and there is a huge opportunity for continued growth.
Recent figures show in its first year the Government’s KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme has helped 408 buyers in Invercargill with grants worth $1.8 million. Across the country it has provided $55.6 million in grants to 11,943 people. The scheme is part of the Government’s wide, ongoing programme to improve housing supply and affordability. KiwiSaver HomeStart is part of the National-led Government’s wide, ongoing programme to improve housing supply and affordability.
Mums ‘n’ Bubs
I spoke at the Mums ‘n’ Bubs Expo last weekend at ILT Stadium Southland, not only because I am Invercargill electorate’s MP but because first and foremost, I’m a mum! The brilliantly organised expo featured a VIP night, stallholders, other guest speakers, children’s activities and some amazing food. Being a mum is one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs one can have and I was honoured to be part of the inaugural event! Well done to organisers Nicole Dallas and Jonathon Pokomaki for having the vision and drive to organise an event for mums and babies as a focus.