What a couple of weeks it has been.
First and foremost I would like to congratulate the Clutha Steamers on their stunning win against the Upper Clutha Rams in the Otago Countrywide final, with the winning try scored in the final nail-biting moments. It was a well-deserved win for a phenomenal fourth year in a row.
Congratulations also to Kaitangata’s Crescent side, which made it to the final against Clutha in the Southern Region draw. I was lucky enough to referee Crescent on a couple of occasions and they are certainly a fine bunch of men.
In other news, it was good to bring Chorus to the Balclutha office to discuss improvements to broadband and cellphone coverage in the district. I am continuing to work on this, which also involves ongoing discussions with Spark and Vodafone.
I also spoke at a recent meeting held by the Rotary Club of Balclutha, and learnt about the wonderful contributions the club provides to the community. It is exciting, too, to see the Balclutha Lions Club being established in the community. Community clubs prove that we can achieve more in our local communities if we work together.
This week in Parliament my private member’s Bill is being read for the first time. This Bill will give foster parents the same rights as any other parent to open a KiwiSaver account for their foster child. A KiwiSaver account is currently the only account that other individuals are not able to withdraw savings from, so this Bill will help provide an opportunity for more than 6000 children in state care to have better financial security.
Unfortunately, I remain disappointed that the Balclutha Police Station is not going to be operated 24/7, as announced earlier last year by National. It is extremely important that people feel safe in their homes and neighbourhoods. This Government’s approach to law and order is soft. Not following through and cancelling this station is shocking and very disappointing.
I continue to worry about the direction that this Government is heading in, and the impact this is having on our local communities.
Our unemployment rate, rent prices and the cost of fruit, vegetables and petrol are all rising. Our standing in the world for business confidence has also dropped from the second best in 2016 to the second worst in 2018. A high level of business confidence is needed for people to start businesses, which creates jobs.
On that note, job growth has also gone from 10,000 new jobs a month under National to only 4000 new jobs a month currently. I sincerely hope that these trends do not continue, for the sake of our communities.