It is hard to believe the year is into its second quarter already. Some welcome rain in our electorate which will be pleasing for the farmers, as we move into autumn and look forward to the winter months.
It’s been a busy month in the Wairarapa, with so many amazing events and happenings. I thought I would use this opportunity to update you all on some of what I have been up to recently.
The Wairarapa Water Use Project received a boost of $804,000 from Government and it was a pleasure to have my colleague Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, in town to support the project.
The scheme is now moving through another stage and this funding is crucial for it to continue to progress. This project could see 1150 new jobs and add an extra $152 million to our GDP here in the Wairarapa. Improved waterways, higher minimum summer flows, higher productivity and more jobs are just some of the benefits.
I attended the Golden Shears, which produced its usual excitement and saw Rowland Smith of Hawke’s Bay take out his 3rd Shears title. We are lucky to have such a world class sporting event in our neck of the woods, and the talent and dedication shown by not just the competitors but all of the organisers is to be celebrated.
We were fortunate to host the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Bill English, for a lunch organised by the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce. This was a good chance for members of the business community to come together and share their collective knowledge and ideas.
I also thoroughly enjoyed attending the UCOL graduation ceremony – great to see a celebration of hard work and qualifications.
Other highlights around our wonderful region in March were the Martinborough Fair, Castlepoint Races, the opening of the Heart of Arts in Carterton, and the Wairarapa Harvest Festival.
Wairarapa has had record tourist numbers this past summer. We are a real destination for fabulous events and congratulations to those who organised them. Keep encouraging friends and relatives to visit, even during the off season.
There has been plenty going on in the House - a private bill that I sponsored, the Papawai and Kaikokirikiri Trusts Amendment Bill, had its first reading. This bill will strengthen trust board’s ability to distribute funds.
Another exciting development, is of course the benefits from last year’s budget that came in on April 1. For the first time in 43 years, benefit rates are rising beyond inflation for families with children by $25 a week after tax.
In one of the General Debates I spoke about the ludicrous idea from the opposition that interest rates should be determined by Parliament. There are plenty of opposition MPs who understand how interest rate markets work and should have spoken against the idea. Interest rate cuts can have varying consequences, depending on market conditions. It is not for politicians to dictate, but rather businesses and markets to determine.
As a member of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, I had the pleasure of working on the employment standards legislation. This will create a fairer workplace for employees by removing zero hour contracts. These contracts were placing an unreasonable burden on workers to be available on call and to work without any guarantee of hours. This legislation also supports extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks.
The committee is also discussing a member’s bill dealing with contractor remuneration which will come back to Parliament in the next few weeks.
The taxation bill relating to the profits from trading in properties is almost finished with the withholding tax portion of the legislation passing through Parliament. In that debate I commented on the idea of universal basic income, or as I said in Parliament the universal benefit idea, or universal bad idea, which is an idea promoted by the opposition leader that we should all receive a benefit. The idea is a nonsense and it does not add up.