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Don Brash Writes: 30 June 2006

Don Brash Writes

No. 83, 30 June 2006

Visits To Canterbury and Gisborne

Last week I made a special visit to families, farmers and community leaders who have been seriously affected by the recent snowstorm in Canterbury.

I was astonished by the devastating effects the extreme weather has had. Some of the families I saw had been without power for ten days - wreaking havoc with access to phone services, milking routines and stock-control. The situations faced by these people were very stressful and it was a reminder of just how essential reliable electricity supply is.

Canterbury people are to be commended for the way they have banded together to cope with the extreme conditions. Community groups, emergency services and local authorities all pitched in, and I heard many stories of kindness and generosity.

The lesson Cantabrians fed back to me is that communication is key when extreme weather strikes, and that in future it will be important that councils and Civil Defence let those affected know exactly what services are available as soon as possible.

Towards the end of this week I headed to Gisborne with National's East Coast MP, Anne Tolley. I always enjoy the opportunity to speak directly with New Zealanders about National's vision for the future, and I was pleased with the strong turnout to a public meeting we held there. We also had a series of meetings with Gisborne businesses and industry groups, which was another great opportunity to collect feedback about what National can do to help New Zealand prosper.

Presentation of Plunket Petition

This week families and Plunket supporters braved chilly weather to take part in a pram parade to Parliament, in support of the PlunketlLine service that Labour wants to scrap.

I was pleased to receive their petition with its impressive collection of 53,000 signatures. I was a Plunket baby as was one of my sons and my three grandchildren, so I know from first-hand experience the importance of the help and support Plunket offers. PlunketLine is an integral part of that service and it has become a respected and trusted source of advice for mothers and babies.

Helen Clark said she'd fund PlunketLine as a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week service. Instead, Labour are axing its funding. In receiving the petition this week I reiterated that it's not too late to save PlunketLine and that Helen Clark should honour the promise she made to New Zealand families.

Don Brash


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