My Members Bill that will allow caregivers to open KiwiSaver accounts for foster children has passed its third reading in Parliament, meaning it will become law in New Zealand, MP for Clutha-Southland Hamish Walker says.
“The KiwiSaver (Oranga Tamariki Guardians) Amendment Bill aims to allow young foster children to have KiwiSaver accounts set up for them, meaning they’re not unfairly disadvantaged when planning for their futures.
“Unfortunately Government parties couldn’t put party politics aside and support my Supplementary Order Paper that would have ensured 6500 of our most vulnerable children had the ability to be on the same playing field as any other child.
“The Bill will now only apply to foster children under the care of a legal guardian, which only accounts for about 10 per cent.
“Having a KiwiSaver account will give these children a chance to prepare for the future. It’s disappointing not all foster children will be able to participate, but this will make a big difference for those who can.”
Last night’s incident where a laser was pointed at a plane flying into Christchurch shows the current law is not strong enough, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says.
“My High-Power Laser Pointer Offences and Penalties Bill will not only deter offenders but also raises awareness about an issue which poses a great risk to pilots and passengers.
“The Bill proposes to double the maximum fine to $4000 and double the term of imprisonment from three to six months. It will also make it an offence to have a high-power laser in possession in both public and private places.
“Pilots have been calling out for harsher penalties but this soft on crime Government seems content putting lives at risk rather than supporting my Members Bill.
“Laser incidents have increased 130 per cent in the past four years, and last night’s incident provides a further example as to how much the law needs to change.
“This is the second incident in three months, as a man awaits sentencing in Southland for pointing a laser at a rescue helicopter.
“It’s time the Government stopped putting politics before safety and supported my Bill.”
Lumsden’s downgraded ‘maternal and child hub’ is not fit for purpose and Government MPs are blocking the reinstatement of Lumsden Maternity Centre, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says.
“The Health Select Committee released a report on my Save the Lumsden Maternity Centre petition today, raising serious concerns for the new hub model implemented in Southland.
“The HSC was ‘not assured the regraded hub was fit for purpose at the time the Lumsden centre was downgraded’ – reiterating what I’ve been saying for months.
“Just last week, Mark Patterson and Liz Craig, our local list MPs, voted against an inquiry which would’ve held Southern District Health Board to account because they’ve put politics before the welfare of Southland mums and babies.
“Despite the HSC’s findings, it’s evident Government MPs are satisfied with the current situation in Southland and are continuing with the rollout of the hub model.
“National’s view is clear: the downgrade was a mistake and has put mums and babies at risk. Southland mums should have access to safe maternity care – this means full services in Lumsden.
“Four women have already given birth in emergency situations, unable to make it to a primary birthing unit as a result of the downgrade.
“The situation is such that Southern DHB has agreed to provide a short-term midwife based in Lumsden out of concern for the safety of our rural mothers and babies – effectively accepting that Lumsden needs a fully-serviced maternity unit.
“Patterson and Craig have said they’d do all they could for Southland mums and babies, but actions speak louder than words.
“It’s time for the Government to step up and reinstate full services.”
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker’s Member’s Bill that will make it possible for any foster parent to open a KiwiSaver account for a child in their care is one step closer to becoming law after passing the Committee of the Whole House stage today.
“The KiwiSaver (Oranga Tamariki Guardians) Amendment Bill will help set up young foster kids for the future, and will allow any guardian to approach a KiwiSaver provider to open up an account for a foster child in their care.
“The Bill is progress for foster children in New Zealand. Foster children are among some of the most vulnerable kids in New Zealand and giving them the ability to have a KiwiSaver account not only gives them an identity, but also allows them to start saving for their future.
“The goal of my original Bill was to allow all foster children the same rights as any other child in New Zealand – to have their own KiwiSaver account.
“It’s disappointing that then Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters pledged to sort out the issue on Tuesday but did not follow through by supporting my additions which would have allowed all foster children the ability to have their own KiwiSaver account today.
“The Bill will now only give about 500 of the 6500 foster children in New Zealand the ability to open a KiwiSaver account. That’s not fair on those children who miss out.
“A KiwiSaver account is the only financial instrument that no-one, except the owner of the account itself, can access. Some KiwiSaver providers have even offered not to charge for the accounts of foster children until there is a significant sum in the account.
“Having an account means young New Zealanders in foster care can start their savings journey when they want to, and their foster parents can help them into the scheme. It’s disappointing not all children will be able to participate, but this will make a real difference in the lives of those who can.”
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker’s Member’s Bill that will help set up young foster kids for the future through the KiwiSaver scheme is a step closer to law after passing its second reading this evening.
“The KiwiSaver (Foster Parent Opting in for Children in their Care) Amendment Bill will make it possible for any foster parent to open a KiwiSaver account for a foster child in their care.
“Foster children are among some of the most vulnerable children in New Zealand and giving them the ability to have a KiwiSaver account gives them an identity. The goal of this bill was to allow them the same rights as any other child in New Zealand – to have their own KiwiSaver account.
“Oranga Tamariki officials recommended some limitations to the bill after it went to the Social Services Select Committee. During the third reading, I will be introducing some changes on the bill so it can benefit more foster children.
“Foster parents do an incredible job raising foster children and this bill gives them the opportunity to help set these children up for their futures.
“I have heard many heart-breaking first-hand accounts from foster children who have saved up for several years only to have their money lost or stolen due to moving foster homes so often. Giving foster children the ability to have a KiwiSaver account would prevent this from happening.
“A KiwiSaver account is the only financial instrument that no-one except the owner of the account itself can access. Some KiwiSaver providers have offered not to charge for the accounts of foster children until there is a significant sum in the account.
“Having these accounts will mean young New Zealanders in foster care can start their KiwiSaver journey when they want to, and their foster parents can help them into the scheme. Every other Kiwi child has this opportunity and I think it is only fair foster children do too.”
Today’s birth in the Lumsden maternal and child hub car park must prompt action by this Government, Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker says.
“This is the third emergency birth since the Lumsden Maternity Centre was downgraded in April, with all three mothers unable to make it to a primary birthing unit.
“Today’s birth progressed so rapidly the mother had to give birth in the car park of the Lumsden maternal and child hub. If the maternity centre had not been downgraded there would have been a second midwife on site, which would have dramatically increased the mother’s chances of making it inside to give birth.
“Within a couple of hours she was also discharged with there no longer being any post-natal care at the maternal and child hub.
“The downgrade of the Lumsden Maternity Centre is resulting in anxious mothers worried about where they will end up giving birth, whether it be in a car park, the side of the road or the primary birthing unit more than an hour away.
“It is not only the physical health and safety of these women that needs to be taken into consideration but also their mental health, as they are being placed under immense stress.
“The hub model is clearly not fit for purpose and National has already announced if re-elected next year we will reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Centre.
“The Prime Minister needs to urgently intervene for the safety of rural mothers and babies in Southland.”
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has again written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after she promised to ‘take another look’ into the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade.
“I have written to the Prime Minister and asked for her findings as well as informing her of the second birth in the Lumsden area in just 11 days,” Mr Walker says.
“This could be a matter of life or death. All we have to do is look across the ditch to rural Queensland where since the downgrading of maternity services the death of babies in every 1000 is now at 23.3, compared with 6.1 in rural areas with obstetrics.
“Any death is one too many, but we should do everything we can to reduce the number, which is what I have raised with the Prime Minister. I have grave concerns a similar situation could happen here following the downgrade of the Lumsden Maternity Centre.
“In just 11 days two babies have been born in the Lumsden area, unable to make it to a primary birthing facility.
“The downgrade of the centre should not have gone ahead and it is Southland mothers and babies who are now at risk.
“No matter how prepared a mother is, when the closest primary birthing facility is over an hour away, babies will be born on the side of the road, or in the emergency hubs.
“The Prime Minister needs to act now and reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Centre.”
In just 11 days two babies have been born in the Lumsden area without being able to make it to a proper maternity facility, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says.
“Today in Lumsden a local woman gave birth just 55 minutes after calling her midwife. Luckily this baby was born at the Lumsden Child and Maternal Hub emergency birthing facility, rather than the side of the road like two weeks ago.
“This shows just how important the Lumsden Maternity Centre was, as previously it would have acted as a safe and nearby facility for both of these mothers. Having a hub instead of the Maternity Centre meant that in negative one degree weather, the new mother had to wrap up her new born baby to leave for the nearest primary birthing facility, which is about an hour away.
“My petition against the closure gained over 5000 signatures and shows the widespread community support for the maternity centre.
“It’s Southland mothers and babies who are now at risk. No matter how prepared any mother is, when the closest primary birthing facility is over an hour away babies will be born on the side of the road or in the emergency hubs.
“On May 27 2019, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was happy to take another look at the maternity services in Lumsden, but what has she done since? It’s now time for her to act and reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Centre.
“The hub model is clearly not working and if National is re-elected next year we will reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Centre.”
Today I’ve written to the Prime Minister calling on her Government to stop discriminating against rural communities and reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Hospital after a baby was born on the side of the road, MP for Clutha-Southland Hamish Walker says.
“It’s clear the hub model the Government proposed after downgrading the maternity centre is not fit for purpose as it removes birthing services and only provides pre and post-natal care in Lumsden and Te Anau.
“The Government has continuously ignored pleas from midwives and the community to keep the maternity centre open as a primary birthing unit for more than a year. That’s not good enough.
“The hub was supposed to be equipped to deal with emergency situations, but despite writing to Health Minister David Clark to explain the lack of equipment, which included emergency supplies such as oxygen, nothing has been done.
“The dignity of pregnant women has been stripped under the hub model. Some will be forced to take major delays in getting maternity care, with some mothers having to travel up to 130km to give birth. It’s likely more mothers will be forced to deliver their babies while travelling to hospital.
“The health of mothers and babies are at risk, it’s time for the Minister to act.
“National has promised to reinstate full services at the maternity centre if elected in 2020. We’ve heard the strong outcry from the Southland community, and we don’t want to see another situation like the one yesterday.
“The Prime Minister has said her Government is focused on the ‘wellbeing’ of New Zealanders, but at the same time it’s ignoring the pleas of our community and forcing mothers to deliver their babies on the side of the road.
“I’m calling on the Prime Minister to step in and reinstate full services at Lumsden Maternity Hospital. How many more lives need to be put at risk before this occurs?”
It’s a huge relief a baby born on the side of the road just outside of Lumsden is healthy with both baby and mother doing well, but this wouldn’t have happened if the Government hadn’t cut maternity services in the town, MP for Clutha-Southland Hamish Walker says.
“National has repeatedly said downgrading services in Lumsden would result in a child being born on the side of the road while travelling to Invercargill. We don’t like to be proven right in these circumstances. Luckily the outcome is positive for both baby and mum, but the next time this happens it might not be the case.
“Only three weeks ago I wrote to the Minister advising him the maternity hubs the Government had promised were not up and running, but he refused to listen.
“The Government needs to urgently get the equipment the DHB said it would supply, and listen to the community and reinstate full maternity services in Lumsden.
“The community and I have raised this issue time and time again with the Government. The Minister has repeatedly said this is an operational matter, but where the health of mothers and babies are concerned, he needs to act.
“It’s clear today the Government’s decision to cut services at Lumsden has put Clutha-Southland mothers and babies at risk. This is unacceptable, especially as it is completely avoidable if the centre could simple retain its full services.
“Providing full birthing services at Lumsden is vital for the health, wellbeing and safety of mothers, babies and their families. National is committed to reinstating Lumsden as a full birthing unit should we be re-elected in 2020.”