Around a hundred people, some in tractors and even a helicopter, showed up in Ruawai to protest the Government’s attack on rural communities today, National’s Rural Communities Spokesperson and Northland MP Matt King says.
“At one of the busiest times of the year for farmers they still turned up in droves to voice their dissatisfaction at this Government’s anti-farming policy.
“New Zealand is the world leader for efficient farming. A litre of New Zealand milk shipped to Ireland, the next most efficient producer, would still have a lower emissions profile than Irish milk produced locally.
“Adding extra costs and regulations will put some Kiwi farmers out of business, and the gap this will leave in the international market will be filled by less-efficient producers.
“Rural communities suffer when farmers struggle, Government incentives to plant trees are making it more financially viable to convert good farm land into forestry. This will devastate rural communities, as farm jobs go and people move away. School rolls will drop and local businesses will struggle.
“The latest concern comes in the form of the cynical consultation process for the Government’s proposed freshwater changes. The analysis of the impact of the proposed changes is conflicting, and farmers have been left confused. With a short six week timeframe (extended to eight under pressure) and not enough public meetings, it feels like the decision has been predetermined.
“It’s very risky to be treating New Zealand’s biggest export sector like this.”
National is proposing a mobile rural health clinic to provide a ‘WOF’ type health check-up in remote areas to ensure people in rural communities have easy access to quality healthcare, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Matt King says.
“More than 600,000 New Zealanders live in rural communities, and while it’s accepted not everyone in rural New Zealand can live next to a hospital, it’s important they have access to modern healthcare.
“National wants to pilot mobile rural health clinics serviced by health practitioners which will travel to remote rural communities on a regular basis, where they can provide general health check-ups and mental health support for locals.
“This initiative will make a tangible difference to those in isolated areas who too often simply ignore potential health warning signs because of their busy lifestyles and the lack of convenience.
“To learn more about the Mobile Rural Health Clinic and National’s stance on other matters in the primary sector I encourage you to read our recently launched primary sector discussion document.”
Primary Sector Discussion Doc can be found here
National MPs Shane Reti and Matt King are supporting a petition calling for an inquiry into the Northland Meningitis outbreak after presenting to the Health Select Committee this morning.
“Today we presented evidence of delays and deception across multiple parts of the Ministry of Health, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and PHARMAC in response to the outbreak,” Dr Shane Reti says.
“The Meningitis Foundation tag line is ‘every second counts’, and we challenged the Health Select Committee whether every second had counted in the Northland outbreak,” Dr Reti says.
“We presented evidence Northland DHB had frequently lobbied Health Minister David Clark for a vaccination program, including by teleconference, a claim the Minister has denied in writing. The Minister needs to come clean. He ignored the pleas of Northland DHB,” Mr King says.
“Northlanders are amongst the highest risk, lowest socio economic population group in our country. Our DHB asked for help early on and didn’t get it. That is unacceptable.
“A segment of our at-risk youths were ineligible for the Government funded vaccination campaign. The Government ignored expert advice that recommended all under 20s should be vaccinated, and a child that was not covered passed away,” Mr King says
“We have evidence of a delay of 22 days from the day Meningitis qualified as an outbreak in Northland to the day it was officially declared, a delay that put lives at risk and makes a mockery of the every second counts in Meningitis rule,” Dr Reti says.
“After the outbreak was declared it then took a further 14 days before PHARMAC ordered the vaccines, despite the anxiety of vaccine manufacturers who were aware of short supplies,” says Dr Reti
“It even looks as though PHARMAC may have deliberately altered the date of the vaccine Purchase Orders to make it look as though they had acted more quickly than they did. This would be a very serious matter requiring independent forensic investigation.
“Delays and deception by the Ministry of Health, ESR and PHARMAC clearly show they did not make every second count in the Northland Meningitis outbreak and 502 people including Matt King and myself are supporting the call for an inquiry,” Dr Reti says.
A link to the oral submission by Dr Shane Reti and Matt King to their petition ‘Inquiry into Meningitis outbreak in Northland’ can be found HERE.
MP for Whangarei Dr Shane Reti and MP for Northland Matt King have launched a petition challenging the Government to vaccinate all Northlanders under 20 years of age to protect against the Meningitis outbreak.
“The petition seeks public support to vaccinate the 5-12 year olds who are ineligible for the Government funded vaccination campaign,” Dr Reti says.
“Meningitis doesn’t ask their age. It is woeful that the Government avoided expert advice that recommended that all others under 20 years of age should be vaccinated in this campaign, not just the limited age groups that were chosen.
“The Government says the reason for the limited vaccination campaign is because there are not enough vaccines but thousands have been sold through GP vaccine suppliers in Auckland. As a GP, I can buy dozens online right now.”
“Many concerned parents are paying up to $140 to have their children vaccinated because they are outside of the campaign age group. However, many parents simply cannot afford that,” Mr King says.
“We are encouraging Northland parents to sign our online petition which we will then present to Parliament when it returns next month to urge the Government to extend the campaign. The petition is available here.”
Northland MP Matt King has accepted a petition calling for tougher sentences for those who throw a cowardly punch at an unsuspecting victim and cause death.
“The petition, which has more than 11,500 signatures, was presented to me by members of the community who are angry at the sentence received by Patrick Tarawa for the death of Chris Vujcich.
“Patrick Tarawa was sentenced to 10 months home detention following a road rage incident where he threw a fatal punch.
“National MPs are wary about criticising the judiciary but like in the tragic case of Nathan Kraatskow, who was killed in a hit and run and whose killer also received home detention, there’s a strong feeling in the community about this case and the sentence.
“Between these two cases, we’ve seen tens of thousands of New Zealanders express their frustration and disappointment at sentences they think are too light.
“This follows signals from the Government that they’re going soft on crime and that’s being picked up by the judiciary.
“When you've got a Government that’s focused on having fewer people in prison without a plan to reduce crime, you’re going to end up with softer sentences and more people whose punishments don’t fit their crimes. You’ll also get more victims.
“I encourage the Government to vote in favour of my Member’s Bill which is currently before Parliament. It would create a new offence of Assault Causing Death with a maximum prison sentence of 20-years.
“National will always be on the side on victims which is why I am presenting this petition to Parliament.”
The Government’s cut-price plans for major Northland highways shows it’s priority is pet projects like central Auckland trams and is leaving Northland behind, MPs for Rodney, Whangarei and Northland Mark Mitchell, Dr Shane Reti and Matt King say.
“The Penlink project would provide an alternative route between the Whangaparoa Peninsula and State Highway 1 at Redvale. With only one way out of the Whangaparoa Peninsula this road is not only a safety issue, but also vital for the overall network,” Mr Mitchell says.
“This is an important project that the Government has wrongly thrown into uncertainty.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford is choosing to axe or down-grade projects that, had they gone ahead, would have made a real difference to our community, as well as the wider Northland transport network.”
“The previous National Government committed to delivering a full four-lane motorway from Auckland to Whangarei. This was a vital project for Northland on a road that links us to the rest of New Zealand and built on our previous Road of National Significance between Puhoi to Warkworth,” Dr Reti says
“Part of this project, from Whangarei to Te Hana, was forced to be put under re-evaluation by NZTA following the Government’s cuts to highway funding. NZTA has since announced that instead of a reliable four-lane highway, only short term safety improvements are being made.
“It’s not good enough. State Highway 1 from Whangarei to Marsden is the deadliest Police Hot Spot road in New Zealand. Four lanes will improve the safety profile of this deadly stretch of road.”
“This is a project desperately needed in the north and, if built, would provide a huge boost to the economy and employment of our region. The Northland region has significant potential which is mostly dependent on State Highway 1,” Mr King says.
“The four-lane motorway would be a game changer for Northland by providing a safer, more reliable and resilient route for local communities, visitors and freight. It will be the gateway to the north.
“But by moving billions of dollars out of state highway funding for trams in central Auckland, the Government is showing its true colours. This tram plan is a sham. Northland deserves better.”
Offenders who sucker punch unwitting victims causing death would be more easily sentenced to up to 20 years in prison under Northland MP Matt King’s Member’s Bill drawn from the Ballot at Parliament today.
“My Bill would create a new offence of Assault Causing Death relating to a punch thrown at an unsuspecting victim who dies from injuries sustained in the attack. This offence would be easier to prove than manslaughter,” Mr King says.
“The sheer fact that an offender threw it at an unsuspecting victim who later died from their injuries would be enough for a stiffer sentence. It also makes it more likely a case wouldn’t go to trial because it would provide another option for a guilty plea.
“It would also provide further sentencing options for judges with the offence sitting between grievous bodily harm and manslaughter, making it easier to hold offenders accountable and providing for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
“This type of violent offending is increasing and creating too many victims. Creating this offence would send a clear message that such violent behaviour won’t be tolerated and that offenders will be held accountable.
“National is the party of law and order. Unlike the Government we believe in holding offenders accountable and keeping our communities safe. This Bill is another part of those efforts and given it is also NZ First’s election policy I call on the Government to support it.”
The National Party is continuing to be the Party of ideas and leadership with four Members’ Bills being drawn from the Ballot today.
Members’ Bills from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie, Northland MP Matt King and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker will all be debated in Parliament.
“My Bill is focused on ensuring that all children in years 1-8 have universal access to learn a second language. It requires the Education Minister to set at least 10 priority languages following public consultation, and places a requirement on the Crown to fund these languages,” Ms Kaye says. “It will be up to school boards to decide which languages will be taught in schools but they will be required to offer at least one second language to their students. The Bill makes clear that NZ Sign and Te Reo must be national priority languages and funded by the crown. The benefits of speaking more than one language are huge for New Zealand from a social, economic and cultural perspective.
“The Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill acknowledges and addresses the risk that is posed by shark cage diving that is carried out in close proximity to beaches. This risk is increased due to the nature of competing activities in coastal waters in the Stewart Island area, where shark cage diving is currently carried out. Water-users, residents and families on Stewart Island have felt endangered by shark cage diving operations that are carried out close to the shore. The decision is timely given yesterday’s Court of Appeal decision which would shut cage divers down,” Ms Dowie says.
National also continues to be the Party of law and order, with Bills increasing penalties for coward punches and high-power laser pointer offences.
“My Bill would create a new offence of Assault Causing Death, which would be easier to prove than manslaughter. It would apply to those who throw cowardly punches at unsuspecting victims who later die from their injuries and has a maximum penalty of 20-years imprisonment. This will send a clear message to offenders that thuggish and violent behaviour won’t be tolerated,” Mr King says.
“The High-Power Laser Pointer Bill will double the term of imprisonment available and the fines, up to six months and $4000. The safety of our pilots and their passengers is paramount and anyone who interferes with that should be punished appropriately,” Mr Walker says.
National is the Party of ideas and action – and these four Bills prove that.
Shane Jones appears to have all but given up on supporting the Northland region, National Party Transport Spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross and Northland MP Matt King say.
“The self-proclaimed provincial champion, Shane Jones, has today dismissed the prospect of building the proposed highway between Whangarei to Wellsford, a commitment made by the previous National Government,” Mr Ross says.
“Mr Jones has also labelled vital roading infrastructure a mere pipe dream and claimed that such projects will never see the light of day.
“It beggars belief that the Government claims that there is simply no way to fund transport projects outside of Auckland but is then funding a tram project in Auckland that will cost more than half of the total cost of our ten nationwide roading projects.
“National’s entire next generation Roads of National Significance package of ten major roading projects across New Zealand was planned at a cost of $10 billion.
“It could have been funded from the $32 billion infrastructure package committed to in Budget 2017 or through rolling over the pre-existing funding for current Roads of National Significance projects.”
“This is simply a matter of priorities. This vital project would have extended the Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance which would have reduced the numbers of serious injuries and fatalities on the road and boosted the economic prospects of the Northland region,” says Mr King.
“We knew that the Minister of Transport was happy to scrap major investment in Northland in favour of building a tram in Auckland but it is disappointing to see that Mr Jones has now joined in the plans to gut regional roads.
“This is a clear example of the impact the Government’s $5 billion cut to state highway funding is having on the Northland region.
“The National Party remains committed to ensuring regional New Zealand receives the kind of investment that will ensure their futures as well and I remain committed to advocating for this vital infrastructure for Northland.”
National is urging the Government to support the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) with ongoing funding, National Party associate spokesperson for Health Dr Shane Reti and National Party spokesperson for Rural Communities Matt King say.
“National recognises that rural communities in New Zealand have different needs and face special challenges, especially when it comes to accessing health services,” Dr Reti says.
“We support the RHAANZ’s request for ongoing operating funding outside their existing contracts to ensure that rural communities have access to the services that they need.
“RHAANZ provides information, advocacy and solutions to issues that affect the health and wellbeing of rural communities. It also provides access to vital support for rural mental health including suicide prevention workshops and clinical champions in mental health.
“The Minister of Rural Communities Damien O’Connor and Minister of Health David Clark’s reluctance to commit to RHAANZ shows that they have no understanding of the challenges involved in providing health care in rural communities.”
National Party spokesperson for Rural Communities Matt King says that it is greatly concerning that the RHAANZ may be forced to begin the wind-down process within the next fortnight.
“We understand the funding bid was put to the Minister of Rural Communities Damien O’Connor and Minister of Health David Clark last November and to date RHAANZ have heard nothing,” Mr King says.
“RHAANZ provides support to around 600,000 New Zealanders and we encourage the Ministers to confirm that they will fund RHAANZ urgently.
“At the moment we are unsure what will happen to the RHAANZ’s 16 regional mental health clinical champions and medical director who help rural communities to access professional mental health services, as well as the RHAANZ’s general function to identify and resource solutions for rural health.
“The Health Minister is also refusing to confirm his support of a School of Rural Medicine, which a National-led Government had committed to establish within three years.
“This coalition Government claims to be the champion of regional and rural New Zealand but delaying any commitment to RHAANZ does not support this claim.”