Stay safe, New Zealand

I hope you are all safe and well at home as the Level 4 lockdown continues. Like me, you’re likely feeling anxious about what’s happening and how we’ll get through this new challenge.

First, caucus and I are absolutely clear that decisive action is needed to prevent further community spread of the Delta variant and the need to act decisively to curb this outbreak.

We will support the Government to do what’s needed to get New Zealand back to some degree or normality as soon as possible.

But we will – and must – continue to hold the Government to account for decisions it has made that have led us to where we are now.

National has strongly and consistently advocated a faster and more widespread Covid vaccination programme. Only by vaccinating as many Kiwis and quickly as possible will we stand any chance of regaining the freedoms we all cherish.

But there’s a long way to go and a lot of work to be done.

Our mantra is: vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.

If you have an existing vaccination appointment, please keep it. If you are able to book a vaccination, it’s imperative you do so.

In the meantime, if you have visited any locations of interest or have cold, flu, or Covid symptoms, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor or Iwi health provider. They will tell you if you should get a Covid test.

If you do need to go out, wear a face covering and stay 2 metres from others.

You can go for a walk, run, or bike ride in your local area ensuring to keep 2 metres from anyone who isn’t in your ‘bubble’. Exercise is good for your mental health.

We know how difficult this is for everyone and encourage you to reach out to friends, family and whānau via phone or online to check in and support one another. Stay safe, New Zealand.

Financial Support for Business 

Small and medium-sized businesses make up a huge proportion of our economy. These businesses are also the most likely to be put under financial stress by the lockdown.

I urge business-owners to learn about assistance that is available to those that need it:

  • The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) allows eligible employers anywhere in the country to apply for the WSS if they expect a loss of 40 percent of revenue as a result of the lockdown.
  • The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is available if firms incur a loss of 30 percent of revenue as a result of the lockdown.
  • The Leave Support Scheme (LSS) provides a two-week lump sum payment of either $585.80 per week for fulltime workers, or $350 per week for part-time workers, who must self-isolate and cannot work from home.
  • The Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) provides a one-off (once per 30 days) $350 payment for workers who must miss work due to a COVID-19 test and cannot work from home.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your local electorate office by email if you need to learn more about these assistance programmes.

What we are doing

Even though we’re in lockdown, caucus and I are meeting regularly via Zoom to talk about developments and plan for a safe and speedy exit from lockdown.

At this stage we will remain in our electorates, though we may be required to return to Wellington if circumstances demand.

In times of crisis like this, it’s vital we keep a close eye on what’s happening and the decisions being made by Government. Our focus is on ensuring the Government makes the right decisions, at the right times, for the right reasons.

Rest assured that while we are supportive of actions that will end this lockdown, we will be questioning and testing the Government ‘s rationale all the way.

In a democracy, it is important that there is effective scrutiny of Government. We believe that if other parliaments are able to operate under lockdowns, then the Government should enable opportunities for Parliament to exercise its democratic duty. Arguably, given the failures at the border, and of the vaccine rollout, that scrutiny is needed more than ever.

Three Waters

Of course, the normal business of government must also continue. While keeping a close eye on what’s happening with the lockdown, we remain focused on issues that affect all New Zealanders.

One of these issues is the Government’s water reforms. We won’t stop defending the voices of local communities and rural New Zealand.

Labour’s Three Waters changes would see control of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater taken from New Zealand’s 67 democratically-elected councils and handed to four new regional water entities. There are several issues with those entities that the Government has not addressed, including unrealistic scale benefits and the risk of ratepayers cross-subsidising other regions.

Most worryingly, the Three Waters reforms will strip power from communities. Water services once controlled by elected councils will now be overseen by multiple layers of bureaucrats and appointed governors in these mega-entities. Assets that ratepayers have paid to own over decades will be surrendered from council control and effectively laundered into entity control with virtually no accountability.

Meanwhile, the Water Services Bill will impose yet another regulatory burden on farmers. Tens of thousands of rural water schemes will be subject to disproportionate administration and compliance at the same level as councils.

National will oppose the bill ​and seek the support of other parties for our change to exempt rural schemes. We’ll need as much public support as possible to change the bill, so look out for our campaign calling on the Government to back our change and to stop flooding rural New Zealand with new costs, rules and regulations. You can sign our petition here.

Stay safe

Again, my thanks to you all for your sacrifice in these uncertain times.

We know how difficult this is for everyone and encourage you to reach out to friends, family and whānau via phone or online to check in and support one another.

Stay safe, New Zealand.