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Welcome to another addition of the Eye on Ilam.

The electorate office continues to be a busy place and you can make contact in the first instance with Allie on 03 359 0582.

The sort of issues we deal with there are is anything that is of a bother to people in the Ilam electorate.

Some of those things range from immigration to concerns about midwifery services right through to various consumer laws as well as the interactions people have with government agencies that form time to time go off the rails. If you have policy ideas, I’m happy to hear from you as well. So please make contact if you have a need, it is good to stay in touch.

 

Regards

Hon Gerry Brownlee

Member of Parliament for Ilam 


Housing

The new government has made a lot of noise about improving housing in NZ. They’ve made claims that there are tens of thousands of houses short in various parts of the country. They are promising to spend tens of millions of dollars on the KiwiBuild programme, which seems more and more stalled as the days go by. The one thing they are not prepared to recognise is that regulation and particularly RMA is a big factor in the cost of providing housing.

It’s interesting to note that in Christchurch the average house price has dropped by 0.6% in the last quarter and rents are static. While that may not give us great comfort as homeowners, it does mean you can reach a point which gives others an opportunity to enter the market.

How was that achieved? Some of you may recall under the Earthquake Recovery Act we consented land for 43,000 residential sections in and around the greater Christchurch area. That immediately meant there was a great supply of land and therefore homebuilders could go for their life in those areas and provide the stock we needed to meet our growing needs. That sort of approach should be applied across the country, but it’s the sort of approach the Labour-NZ First coalition do not seem willing to consider.


Russia

It’s been very perplexing for us in the last few days, to watch as the world expressed horror and displeasure at the underhanded activities of suspected Russia agents in Britain poisoning a former Russian spy. This type of activity is the sort of thing we all suspected was common place in the cold war years.
 

What’s most alarming about this is that Russia is unwilling to engage on these matters, even though it is widely known the substance used is Russian. So you would think that given Britain, United States, Canada and Australia, our Five-Eyes partners, have all taken action to expel diplomats in their country to express their disproval, New Zealand may have done the same as a tangible protest against this type of activity. While Mr Peters and Ms Arden might like to say it’s because we have an independent foreign policy, I think it begs the question, which is being asked by many other countries, and particularly countries we like to trade with, why we are not taking a firmer line. In the end, diplomatic expulsions are more about what a country believes is appropriate, in condemning the aggressive actions of another country. Doing nothing can be seen as approval.


Marcroft

Most of you may not have heard of an MP by the name of Jenny Marcroft. She is a NZ First List MP who has been in the news recently, allegedly threatening Hon Mark Mitchell in a way that is completely unacceptable and in breach of Parliamentary Privilege.

Mark had been advocating for a project in his electorate which may be eligible for the Governments extraordinarily large, $1billion Regional Growth Fund. Ms Marcroft suggested to Mr Mitchell that his advocacy wasn’t welcome, that the project would do better if he wasn’t involved, and further, if the project was to get funding he should himself desist from raising issues about the Hon Ron Mark’s frequent use of military transport, so frequent that the NZ Airforce has been given the nickname ‘RonAir’. Further she suggested it was inappropriate for Hon Paul Goldsmith to ask questions about the regional growth fund to Hon Shane Jones, the Regional Development Minister.

This sort of threatening behaviour the not sort of thing you want to see in a democracy like New Zealand, where we are very open, very available and where we expect the handling of such large sums of government money to be transparent and not impeded by political imperatives. The Regional Growth Fund is in danger of being seen as a New Zealand First vote gathering slush fund.


Curran

I’m sure some will be perplexed about why Carol Hirschfeld felt the need to resign from her position as Head of News at Radio New Zealand (RNZ), over a meeting she had in December last year with Hon Clare Curran, Minister of Broadcasting. The point here is that Ministers should not meet with employees of State enterprises, or entities, particularly those they are responsible for without notifying the board or Chief Executive of the entity.

It’s also unclear why Hon Clare Curran was not forthcoming with information initially when asked questions about this meeting in the House. She described it as informal and Carol Hirschfeld described it as coincidental, when in fact there was a substantial email trail indicating this meeting was well planned and quite clearly should have been considered official. So that raises the questions about what was discussed.

The government is about to put up a $38million fund much of which is expected to go to RNZ for a project called RNZ+. It would seem as a difference of opinion at different levels inside RNZ and with the board about what RNZ+ actually meant. Quite clearly for the Minister to be having a discussion with a more junior executive inside RNZ was inappropriate. We have laid a charge with the Speaker that the Ministers responses in the House and answers to questions of public interest have breached parliamentary privilege.

It will be interesting to see whether in the Speakers view the charge should be referred to the Privileges Committee. I think the case is pretty black and white and the answer should be yes. 


Health

With the recent announcement by my friend the Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman of his retirement from Parliament to pursue an interesting private sector opportunity in the health sector, the Hon Michael Woodhouse has been promoted to the position of National’s opposition spokesperson for Health. I spoke to Michael to about what his priorities are for the Health portfolio, and you can see it by clicking here.


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Ilam Electorate Office

As always the Ilam Electorate office staff are there to help all Ilam constituents with concerns or queries. The office is located at 283 Greers Road and is open Monday through Friday. If you require a JP, there is one in the office, please phone first on 359 0582.

 

 

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