Update to KiwiSaver HomeStart Grants
Last month I wrote to Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith asking him to reconsider the income thresholds for HomeStart and I am pleased to see the Government has since announced changes to help first home buyers. Income caps have been increased to ensure that the objective of helping middle income earners into a modest home is achieved. The new income caps are $85,000 for a single person and $130,000 for a couple. House price limits have also increased to $400,000 for an existing home and $450,000 for a new home. To 31 March 2016 over 400 Kiwisaver HomeStart Grants were paid to first home buyers in Invercargill. The grant helps first home buyers pull together a deposit with a government grant of up to $10,000 for an existing house and $20,000 for a new home.
To apply for the KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant you can visit www.kiwisaver-homestart.co.nz or phone Housing New Zealand on 0800 WELCOME (935 266).
Opening of Clean Green Effluent Company
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of officially opening the Clean Green Effluent Company’s new facility in Invercargill. Lindsay Lewis and his team have developed the environmentally friendly effluent system which will help to lower dairy’s carbon footprint and is a major step toward making dairy a cleaner industry. The purpose-built factory has energy efficient LED lights and a strong recycling initiative. With their environmentally friendly product, Lindsay and his team epitomise Southlands can do attitude.
Seniors Morning Teas
While Parliament was in recess I had the opportunity to catch up on what has been happening in the electorate. I have hosted a number of Seniors Morning Teas and had a wonderful time meeting with those brave, hardy souls that managed to get out on some very cold mornings.
The feedback I have received has been fantastic and it helps me to get a gage on the community and what is important to you all. I have a few more planned over the next couple of months and, as so many have told me how much they have enjoyed them, I look forward to hosting you again next year.
I have also had the chance to meet with the residents of Peacehaven, Clare House and Ascot Park Rest Homes. The new extension to Clare House is a wonderful facility and was enjoyed by residents and staff alike. I also had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Parmenter a resident at Peacehaven Rest Home who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.
New ‘Drive on Left’ signage
Local councils and tourism operators are on the right track installing ‘Drive on the Left’ signs at campervan and rental carparks, intersections and popular tourist spots. The ‘Drive on the Left’ signs will help visitors safely negotiate busy driveways and intersections. Signs are being installed in New Zealand’s most popular tourist spots including Queenstown, and the Southland District Council is installing signs at key locations throughout the region. Although the statistics indicate overseas drivers were at fault in less than 5 per cent of all fatal and injury crashes on our roads between 2011 and 2015, this new initiative is continuing to build a safer system for all our road users.
Earthquake strengthening – heritage fund now open
Quake-prone, Heritage listed buildings in Invercargill will be able to apply for support for earthquake strengthening through the new Heritage Earthquake Upgrade Incentive Programme fund (EQUIP). This is a big opportunity to safeguard some of the heritage buildings which make our region so special. The contestable fund will be available for all privately-owned Category 1 Heritage New Zealand listed buildings across the country and for Category 2 listed heritage buildings in areas of high to medium seismic risk such as Invercargill. In the next few months a comprehensive information package providing guidance to heritage building owners on how to manage strengthening projects will be developed by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. I encourage anyone who is interested to apply for this fund, so that we can protect our cherished heritage sites for future generations.
More information is available on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website: www.mch.govt.nz/heritageequip.
Predator Free New Zealand
The Government has announced a plan to protect New Zealand’s native animals and plants through an ambitious target of making New Zealand predator free by 2050.
Introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums kill around 25 million native birds a year, and damage our economy by spreading disease and harming biodiversity. National’s predator free goal is a world-first initiative and one of the most ambitious conservation projects ever undertaken. Ridding New Zealand of predators will restore our native bird populations, boost agriculture, improve forest health and reinforce New Zealand’s trade and tourism brand.
The Government announced an initial funding injection of $28 million to the project, which will launch a new company that will couple Government expertise with philanthropic, business, and community efforts.