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In Focus: 27 August 2015

Hon Jo Goodhew, MP for Rangitata

In the Electorate

Parliament has been sitting over the last three weeks and a number of announcements have been made some of which I have covered in this newsletter.

Over the past couple of weeks I have had opportunity to speak to two groups of seniors within the electorate. Both meetings have been interesting and the topics which arose wide ranging. I have also been able to meet with a number of community leaders and groups and also spoke to students at Ashburton Borough School. The Ashburton Borough students were fundraising for the SPCA on the day I was there and were very interested in seeing a photo of our cat Dave who came from the South Canterbury SPCA.

Next week will bring the one year anniversary of the shooting tragedy at Ashburton’s Work and Income office. My thoughts, along with those of the community, will turn to the families of those lost and the Work and Income staff affected by the events of September 1, 2014.


NZ Tourism booming

New Zealand’s tourism industry has passed a huge milestone with visitors exceeding three million in the past year for the first time ever.

More people are coming to New Zealand than ever before, spending more and staying for longer, helping boost our economy and creating more jobs and opportunities for New Zealanders.

Visitors to our shores in the year to July spent a total of $8.7 billion – up 28 per cent on the previous 12 months with nearly half being spent outside the main centres. Tourism was also directly responsible for 94,100 jobs within the industry and supported a further 72,700 in the year to March 2014.

Tourism is our second-biggest export earner and the industry is in excellent shape which is good news for the New Zealand economy as a whole. The Government has already invested an unprecedented $600 million in tourism and tourism promotion as part of our plan to further diversify the economy which, based on the increase in visitor numbers, is paying off.

In the South Island, tourism is a huge contributor to regional economies.

Christchurch welcomed almost 440,000 visitors for the year ending June 2015, an increase of 6.7 per cent on the previous year. Those visitors to Christchurch spent an estimated $837 million contributing to the 10.6 per cent growth in Canterbury’s economy last year.


Changes to Easter Sunday trading

The Government is to enable local communities, through councils, to decide whether retailers can open on Easter Sunday.

Current rules around shop trading over the Easter period are complex and relatively arbitrary. The law allows certain shops selling specific items to remain open, while others must close their doors. It also includes several historical exemptions which allow shops in some areas to open on EasterSunday while others cannot.

The proposed law change will enable communities to choose whether or not to allow trading. It will mean regions, especially tourist areas, can respond where there is strong demand for Easter Sunday trading.

The law change will also give workers the opportunity to decline to work or accept work if they wish to on that day – with no reason necessary. This will acknowledge Easter Sunday’s continued status as a day of significance across the country, and maintains the ability of workers to take a period of leave over the Easter holiday if they choose.

Only changes to Easter Sunday are being proposed reflecting the added religious and cultural significance attached to Good Friday, Anzac Day and Christmas which remain subject to restrictions.

The Bill is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks. The effects of the law change will be seen when Territorial Authorities make bylaws to allow for trading on Easter Sunday, likely from Easter 2017.


10 year passports will be delivered early

Kiwi travellers will be able to enjoy a 10 year adult passport sooner. Subject to legislation passing in Parliament, adults planning for their Christmas holidays will be able to apply for a 10 year passport at the end of November, one month earlier than originally planned.

Ten year validity gives greater convenience to most adult passport holders, as they will need to renew their passport less frequently. This will also result in a reduction in the annual average price of an adult passport for New Zealanders. The 10-year adult passport price will cost $180 (including GST), an average saving of $90 over the 10-year validity period (the average price of two five year adult passports over ten years including one renewal is approximately $270).

Because a child’s appearance can change significantly over time, the child passport will remain valid for five years as is international convention.

In the current climate of international uncertainty, it is essential the Government continues to invest in technology and security, as New Zealanders expect their travel document to retain its exceptional levels of trust and integrity.

We must safeguard the highly trusted international reputation of our passport which allows New Zealanders the freedom to visit approximately 170 countries without applying for a visa. Likewise, investing in services that make it more convenient for the travelling public to access their passports is also essential, and unlike our main counterpart countries, we already provide a service for renewing adult passports entirely online.


Increased focus on rural depression

An increase in training for rural health professionals and community leaders to tackle depression in rural communities has been announced.

The commitment is the second part of the one-off $500,000 funding boost for mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities announced at Fieldays.

Raising awareness of mental health issues in rural communities is important, but you also need the professional support with the right skills to help those who are at risk.

The Ministry of Health will work closely with Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and DHBs to provide around 40 training workshops in 20 different locations on mental health issues, for health professionals, business networks and communities.

This funding will boost the skills of health professionals such as GPs, nurse practitioners and pharmacists working in rural areas. It will also allow greater coverage of training for people with specific farming-related jobs, such as farm consultants and stock agents.

The Health and Primary Industries Ministers, in collaboration with Dairy NZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, have already announced up to 100 support people will be trained to work for Rural Support Trusts, providing guidance and support to farmers around the country. They will be able to recognise and refer those who need support.

Farmers are resourceful and are used to coping with all kinds of challenges. While this season may be tough for some, we know that many parts of the primary sector are seeing increased export returns. The medium to long term outlook for the primary sector is bright with the rise of Asia and growing global demand for high quality food products.

Written stories and videos from rural men and women who have been affected by depression can now be found atwww.depression.org.nz/rural.


Upcoming Events

August 28 – hosting Hunua MP Andrew Bayly in Timaru
August 28 – attending Sth Canterbury Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards
August 29 – speak to Federation of Butchers’ Conference, Nelson
August 29 – attend Southern Indian Community Celebration, Timaru
Sept 2 – BNZ Closed for Good events, Timaru
Sept 5 - 12 – Ministerial visit to South Africa

ENDS

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