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A very happy 2019 to you! I hope your year has started well and feelings of wellbeing from your holiday break last at least into February! If you’ve worked through, hats off to you and thank you for keeping things running.

I spent some much-anticipated time with my family and have returned to work committed as ever to holding the government to account and advocating for the people of Tamaki. On that note, the office is back up and running so do feel free to be in touch - we’re always keen to hear your concerns and help out where and when we can.

There are already some important things underway.

My thoughts and prayers are with all the families affected in the tragic and terrible accident on Gowing Drive, Meadowbank on January 12. As you may have heard, a young man died and 10 others, including children, were injured in a crash between a bus and a car. I have written to Auckland Transport asking for action on the well-known roading issues of Gowing Drive such as speed, blind corners, difficult intersections and overall design issues. You can read my letter here.

I’m angered by the proposed changes to Tomorrow’s Schools which would strip power from boards of trustees and instead concentrate it in centralised ‘hubs’ comprised of local iwi and government bureaucrats looking after 125 schools each. In short, it’s a classic left wing ‘progressive’ approach. It lifts power away from parents and local communities and concentrates it upwards with bureaucrats so the government can shape children according to its ideologies and push its agenda into the future. As I said in my previous newsletter, I fear for our children and parents if this government adopts the recommendations. We should be teaching kids how to think, not what to think.

I’m disappointed by the Council’s move to press ahead with the changes to Quay Street, reducing it from four lanes of traffic to two. It’s already causing traffic problems only having a lane each way and it’s only going to get worse as the year gets going for those travelling from the Eastern Suburbs and other parts of Tamaki. The plan is for city-bound traffic to be diverted to Customs St and through traffic is encouraged to bypass the city via The Strand and up Grafton Gully to the motorways. However, The Strand is already struggling to cope with the volume of traffic it currently carries. Frankly, the council knows this but has pushed ahead anyway. It is an ideologically motivated decision based on their belief that there should be fewer cars in Auckland. If they’ve decided to make inner city roads so inconvenient that no one will want to drive on them they should at least have the courage to be honest about it.

There is continuing KiwiBuild chaos with the head of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development's KiwiBuild unit, Stephen Barclay, resigning with immediate effect in the midst of an employment dispute. It’s becoming more and more obvious just how much of a failure KiwiBuild is turning out to be. I understand people are turning down properties when their names are drawn from the ballot after finding that KiwiBuild houses cost market rate or even more expensive! As Associate Spokesperson for Housing (social), myself and Judith Collins will be asking the Government to scrutinize and reassess the initiative. It’s failing first home buyers who are locked out of the market and it’s failing taxpayers.

Finally, it was a pleasure to join others in welcoming Her Majesty’s ship, the Montrose, to Auckland. The Royal Navy ship’s company provided a fantastic welcome aboard. Thanks to UK in New Zealand for continuing to build a strong relationship between our two nations.

Again a very happy new year to you; I hope it is filled with good things. Do feel free to be in touch with the office if there’s anything you think we need to be aware of. Otherwise, I’ll be in touch again with new updates shortly.

Warmest regards,

Simon O'Connor

Member of Parliament for Tamaki
Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Committee

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