Greetings everyone. Well, we’re now well into 2021 and what a year we are having. The news that has dominated is COVID-19, but now the story needs to turn to our recovery as a country from the economic carnage that it has left behind.
It’s here that we are uncovering a lot of gaps in the Government’s performance. No doubt you will have seen aspects of it in the news. The budget has done very little to unlock the aspirations of New Zealanders to improve their individual prosperity and I am thoroughly disappointed and concerned about the proposed level of debt that is planned for the next 4 years.
A highlight for me since the beginning of the 53rd Parliament is the enormous privilege that I have being the National Party’s Junior Whip. This is a fascinating role that I am enjoying getting my teeth stuck into and I am learning a lot about the Parliamentary process and how we can use our influence as an opposition to affect change, despite not being in government.
Our West Coast-Tasman AGM in Brightwater was a success and we are very fortunate to have the significantly experienced and knowledgeable Murray Malone and Joe Sims aboard – Murray as Electorate Chair and Joe as Treasurer. They are taking the places of Bailey Pellow and Anne Chapman respectively, both of whom we are grateful to for their service to the electorate in what was a challenging year for the Party.
I’ve been busy getting around the country to Civil Defence/Emergency Management coordinators. Of particular interest to me was my visit to the National Crisis Management Centre with the CEO of NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) Carolyn Schwalger. I feel assured that they are ready and able to spring into action when they are required. It is a massive facility and consists of a central command room (called the ‘bridge’, after the bridge of a ship), multiple meeting and briefing rooms, sleeping quarters, a full kitchen facility, room for the Prime Minister to hold meetings of Cabinet and a room for press conferences to be held in
Maureen at the National Crisis Management Centre
Maureen and Penny Simmonds at the Southland CDEM HQ
Here in Parliament, the Government voted down my members’ bill: "Adverse Weather Affected Timber on Conservation Lands Bill" in late March. The bill would have allowed the Director-General of Conservation to authorise selective removal of damaged trees after a weather event. This is a waste of good raw materials that will now be left to rot on the forest floor. My bill was a practical approach to the issue and I am very disappointed that the Government chose not to support it, though not surprised. My bill was a natural extension of the work done by my colleague, the Hon Dr Nick Smith’s bill in 2014 allowing selective removal of windfallen timber on the West Coast following Cyclone Ita which had huge benefit for our regional economy.
Pictured: L-R, Maureen Pugh, Hon. Dr. Nick Smith, Hon. Te Ururoa Flavell, Hon. Peter Dunne with native timber felled by Cyclone Ita
We’ve also had the delivery of this Government’s fourth budget. It is a broken compass budget that doesn’t achieve the sort of growth that we believe is so critical. The budget could have delivered a plan to get New Zealand back to prosperity and to reduce the debt burden on future generations – we are staring down losses for the next four years. We need a plan that will grow the economy to get us back in surplus sooner. We are busy holding the Government to account on its many counts of failure to deliver. Safe to say though that a Judith Collins' led National Government would have been aspirational for New Zealanders – we don’t want to see people living on the benefit. We want them to have jobs, to prosper and to be successful.
I was privileged to attend the opening of the Mudfish Bush Railway recently, as the patron of the Westland Industrial Heritage Park. The railway is open to the public for rides so pop up to the Hokitika Airport and check out this fabulous community project.
Photo: Maureen cutting the ribbon on the Mudfish Bush Railway
My good friend, Hon. Dr Nick Smith, recently resigned from Parliament after 30 years of service to his Nelson electorate and our country. I will miss Nick, he takes with him a depth of knowledge that we will miss in Parliament. I am sure that Nelson will also miss his tireless dedication to the community. My role now expands to help look after Nelson as a caretaker MP on behalf of the National Party.
Photo: ‘Fins Up’ for the Tasman Bay Makos with Maureen and Dr Smith
I have recently hosted Todd Muller, MP for Bay of Plenty and National Spokesman for Trade and Export Growth, in Tasman for a public meeting and a series of visits with Trade and Export industry stakeholders in Motueka and Appleby. The public meeting was well attended and extremely informative, with engaging questions from the floor about a wide range of trade topics.
Photo: Maureen, Todd and Hon Dr Nick Smith with some of the attendees of the public meeting
At the end of April I paid a visit to Westport and Karamea. When I was in Westport I hosted drop-in clinics which were extremely well attended – I didn’t have enough time to get through everyone! It is always a pleasure to visit the Buller and I try to get up there as much as I can. I also met with Patrick Volk at the Pancake Rocks Café in Punakaiki to gain an understanding of the impact of the lack of tourism on his business. The travel bubble with Australia is now starting to make a positive difference.
Photo: Maureen and Patrick survey the road outside Pancake Rocks Café
On 9th/10th July I am hosting Hon David Bennett (spokesperson for Agriculture, Horticulture, and Biosecurity) in Takaka & Motueka. A public meeting will start at the Pakawau Memorial Hall at 11am on 9th July. We will do more listening than talking.
On 26th/27th July Ian McKelvie is visiting West Coast and Tasman forestry operators.
As we progress through this term of Parliament, as always, you can stay informed of the latest issues via our National Party website: national.org.nz
To stay up to date with what I’m up to in your area and around the rest of the country, please ‘like’ me on Facebook: wct.MaureenPugh
I look forward to continuing to get around the West Coast and Tasman over the coming months and getting to know you and your community. If there is anything I can help you with, or even just to chat and share your ideas, you are more than welcome to contact my office at:
4 Bert Mercer Drive, Hokitika, 7810
0800 MAUREEN (0800 6287336)
I am happy to make a house call or to meet you wherever is convenient. All the best for the coming winter months!
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