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Tamaki Newsletter—March 2021

March 01, 2021 Share

Since I last wrote - which wasn’t all that long ago - we have had two lockdowns.  As I write, we are just beginning the second, this one to be in place initially for seven days.

The frustrations around this are enormous and my inbox is full with Tamaki locals expressing their thoughts – from worries about their businesses to stress accessing childcare. People understand the need to protect our health, but they are also wondering what considerations are being given to their businesses or to our mental health and well-being. Worryingly, I have a number of locals telling me how their children are really beginning to struggle with the anxiety these lockdowns and associated messaging have. Cancelled sports events and camps may be understood somewhat by adults, but younger people often just feel disappointment. The decisions being made today are going to have a noticeable and harmful impact down the line.

There has also been a lot of focus on the young man whose actions have directly contributed to this latest lockdown. I completely understand this anger, and he should be held to account, however, the issue is bigger than one person ‑ it is a systematic problem. I would suggest the government has been complacent – resting on its laurels in many ways – when it comes to ensuring compliance. Other countries have, for example, random visits and phone calls to those in isolation. We need to be asking the government more questions around how it is managing things from the border to MIQ, contact tracing to what tests they are choosing to use. 

I also want to add in a quick word about vaccines. The government said we would be at the front of the queue, but as with many things the government promises, it became evident that this was untrue. The government could and should have used emergency procedures to assess the vaccine as other countries have done. Perhaps then we would not be yo-yo-ing in and out of lockdowns as we are now.

Not everything is about Covid-19 however; the government have pushed through a number of very significant – and problematic – changes lately.

MAORI WARDS

The government has rushed through changes to stop Councils once and for all from being able to hold referenda on the question of establishing Maori Wards. This is now law, with the public given less than 48 hours to make submissions. Changes to any electoral structure should be carefully considered, but Labour has once again ridden roughshod over this convention.

Setting up Maori wards is rightly controversial. It is developing separate systems based on race. This doesn’t work well in a properly functioning democracy. The new law says that of all the questions a Council can ask the public about – roads, rates, rubbish, you name it – they cannot ask whether the voters want Maori Wards or not. This is banned and nothing else. Disturbingly, once established, the new law provides no ability or mechanism to reverse the change.

EDUCATION CHANGES

The government also continues to make changes to the education curriculum. The changes, however, are not addressing the continuing underachievement of students in many important subject areas such as maths and science, but instead focusing on what I would call more ideological topics. The first is changes to the New Zealand History Curriculum. Teaching our history is good, but as I read the three aims of the curriculum, it seems to me to take a very simplistic view that interactions between humans are always about a good side versus a bad side, with little in between. Worse still, the third aim is a classic Marxist viewpoint that suggests history can only be viewed as a struggle for power. 

On top of this, the government is also wanting to introduce ‘anti-racism’ classes. No one supports racist behaviour and each of us can model tolerant and respectful behaviour. Ironically, the proposed ‘Un-teach Racism’ course is all about creating new divisions, arguing for the concept of ‘structural racism’ which are deliberately undefined, and promoting a very singular view of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

All of this shows that what is currently being suggested is more akin to indoctrination than education.

CANCEL CULTURE

Frustratingly, we are seeing more and more of ‘cancel culture’ in New Zealand. If you say or do something that the progressive left disagree with, then instead of engaging and discussing, they will simply seek to shut you down. A week or so ago, a reporter wrote an op-ed saying how great it was that corporates could pull advertising from the likes of Magic Talk because of what a commentator’s view was. Here is my response:

I wonder if this opinion writer would be so certain of her position if corporates acted in a way contrary to her value system?

Her basic argument is that corporates and private companies should cancel contracts with other people or entities they disagree with. Most of us could think of examples where we think it is right to withdraw support, sponsorship, or business. However, most of us could equally think of situations where a business is simply throwing around its weight on issues that are much more complicated and are still very much a matter of public debate.

Are we comfortable with corporates and private businesses deciding on moral, ethical, or political questions simply by the power of their money and influence? Again, it is very easy to focus on a single case that is relatively clear cut, but the key is to extrapolate the dynamic wider. Again, the question stands – would this opinion piece writer be so certain of her position if a private business acted in a way that did not accord with her values?

Where to draw the line between 'a private business can do whatever it wants' and 'a private business should align to x social/political norms' is tricky. What worries me is how some people, often on the progressive side of politics (though not exclusively – I have seen conservatives try doing the same), pivot between these two sides depending on whether they agree with the action or not. We should be more principled and consistent than that. I have a general concern about corporates deciding for us – and using their money and influence to do so – about what is right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable. Granted, such businesses cannot be indifferent or agnostic either, and herein lies the heart of the issue and the need for much more considered discussion.

AFGHANISTAN

For those like me who follow defence matters, the government has announced that we are ending our soldiers’ deployment to Afghanistan after 20 years. I was fortunate enough to travel to Kabul a few years ago to see our soldiers' work and impact there. It was (and is) important and dangerous work. We should thank all those Kiwis who were deployed there for their service, dedication, and sacrifice.

I was fortunate enough to visit Afghanistan a few years ago to see first-hand the incredible work our defence personnel do there.

HONG KONG

As I write, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Hong Kong has arrested a further 47 democracy advocates for supposedly “subversive behaviour” (according to the egregious new law the government passed a few months back). Those arrested helped run an unofficial "primary" election last June to pick opposition candidates for 2020 legislative elections, which were then postponed. That’s right, the CCP arrested citizens who wanted to run for parliament.

This is outrageous and I join with many other MPs around the world condemning this latest action. Sadly, there is little democracy left in Hong Kong and it is heart-breaking to hear from Hong Kong locals about their experiences.

AROUND TAMAKI

I’m organising a public safety meeting with the Police in light of the increase in car break-ins, parcel thefts, disorderly behaviour, and other crimes happening across our electorate. I hope to announce the date soon, but it will most likely take place later in March. As you will understand, it takes a little bit of coordination to organise times that work for me, the police, and the venue. The lockdown hasn’t helped either! Keep an eye on my Facebook page for more information; I will write another newsletter advertising this as well.

Be assured, these issues are front and centre to me and in the meantime, I encourage you all to report all suspicious behaviour or crimes to the Police via 105 or 111 in an emergency.

Another meeting, this time with Housing New Zealand/Kainga Ora to discuss their proposed Glendowie housing developments, will also be postponed. The lockdown has prevented this from going ahead this Thursday. I am currently chasing them up regarding a new date or whether they are considering an online forum.

There is a lot happening, and certainly a collective unease and understandable disappointment. Can I wish you and your families all the best for the coming days, and know that while my offices have to remain closed, I remain available via email and phone.

Simon
MP for Tamaki

P.S. I will leave you with the thoughts of Karl du Fresne, a former editor of the Dominion Post, who published an article titled New Zealand is being transformed, but not in a good way. He points to how “rampant identity politics are blighting the country” with the entrenchment of racial separatism, encouragement of grievance culture, and the promotion of polarisation and divisiveness. The revamping of our education system, changes to freedoms of speech, and punishment to our farming sector provide evidence of this. You can read the full article here.

Tamaki Newsletter—February 2021

February 09, 2021 Share

Hello everyone

As always, I trust this latest newsletter finds you well and you have had a restful break over the summer holidays. I enjoyed some time away with family, celebrating Christmas with my wife’s family down south - thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing. It must be said, we live in an incredible country indeed.

It is back into the full swing of things now, with my office and team also back to their usual hours. As always, if you have any queries or concerns, let the team and I know and we will do our best to assist.

My favourite photo I took during my summer holidays. This is at Tunnel Beach, just outside Dunedin.

As we begin a new year, we have much to look forward to but also a number of challenges. Sadly, many of those challenges from 2020 remain present in 2021. As I write, it appears that international travel will remain elusive for the next 12 months, as too a clear answer as to why New Zealand is still waiting for the various vaccines. As you know, many of our allies – such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States – have already begun vaccinating their citizens. Israel already has vaccinated over a quarter of its population! Last year, the government was telling us we would be at the “front of the queue,” yet as with so many things Labour says, the opposite is true.

We also have the Ministry of Education’s recent announcement on what they want the New Zealand history curriculum to look like. Put very simply, it is a shocker not least as one of its three aims is to teach students that “history has been shaped by the exercise and effects of power." This idea is straight out of Marxist thinking, inspired by philosophers like Hegel and others who see life as simply a battle between opposing sides; a never-ending revolution to dominate, control, and have power. Excuse my being somewhat philosophical (granted, it is my post-graduate expertise), but teaching this singular viewpoint is simply wrong. There are many ways to view history, including one that is far more relational, and yet this government wants to promote the one view that fits their political narratives. New Zealand has a great history, and it should be taught. However, what is currently being suggested looks to me more like indoctrination than education.

Somewhat related is the other major issue I see developing this year and that is free speech. The government seems intent on introducing legislation that is not so much about speech that is hateful in the strict sense, but rather speech they hate or dislike. Granted, we have not seen the actual legislation but early signs and comments from the government are not positive. A healthy liberal democracy exists because it can allows for free speech and one must question the commitment to democratic principles of those who wish, effectively, to censor the views they do not like. We have already seen far too much ‘cancel culture’ and bullying of those whose views do not align with their supposedly progressive agenda.

AROUND TAMAKI

It has been great to see so many people out and about enjoying the beaches, parks, and spaces of our amazing electorate. The Prada Cup, and in a few weeks the America’s Cup, will see more action on the harbour which provides a good excuse to visit the many fantastic businesses in the area. Talking with many local business owners, things remain tough, so supporting local is a good thing!

Thanks to locals Carla and Paul who dropped this incredible framed photo of Kohimarama from 1924 to my office. What a wonderful bit of history.

A warm congratulations to Tamaki local and retired Court of Appeal judge Lynton Stevens for being honoured by the Queen with a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for his services to the judiciary and the community. Among his many achievements, he recently chaired the Government inquiry into the Havelock North water contamination as well as having been instrumental in the successful renewal of the Auckland Racing Club. It is a fantastic and well-deserved achievement, so once again, a big congratulations.

Tamaki local and retired Court of Appeal judge Lynton Stevens, now a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on any local issues or developing issues you see within politics.  In the meantime, every best wish to you and your family.

Simon
MP for Tamaki

 

Tamaki Newsletter—December 2020

December 10, 2020 Share

Hello everyone

This will be my first newsletter for December, but also my last for 2020. There is a lot to update on you below – from local successes to activities in Parliament – but first and foremost, I want to say thank you for all the support, advice, and encouragement this year. The results of the election were certainly not good for National, however, we here in Tamaki can be proud of our efforts and for delivering one of the best results of any blue seat. So again, my sincere thanks.

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Tamaki Newsletter—August 2020

August 24, 2020 Share

Hello everyone 

Well, what crazy times we continue to be in, including the Auckland lockdown continuing until at least Sunday evening. The last few weeks have been very difficult for many people, not at least our business owners who have been forced to close down once again. My mind particularly turns to our café and restaurant owners. In talking to many people in recent days, it is clear they are doing it tough. My thanks, however, to everyone who has ‘supported local’ and I encourage you to continue doing so.

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Tamaki Newsletter—June 2020

June 26, 2020 Share

Hello everyone

As I write, the parliament is once again in Urgency – that is, the government has the House sitting from 9am until midnight each day to rush through a large number of bills. It is quite extraordinary to have government MPs literally taking five-second calls on important legislation, including a complete overhaul of how the public service works. Instead of debating, they are ramming legislation through. I cannot help but think it is rather symbolic of how this government is working overall.

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Tamaki Newsletter—May 2020

May 27, 2020 Share

Hello everyone

I trust this latest newsletter finds you and your families well.  It has taken me a little longer to write as it has been an incredibly busy few weeks, including of course a change of leadership for the Party.  These moments are often difficult but our focus now is ensuring National is in shape and quick to return the focus on challenging Labour.  The new leadership has committed to returning us to the mid-forties in the polls and a win at the election, so now is the time for us to work towards this with them.  I'd also like to acknowledge the service of Simon and Paula who arguably took on the hardest roles of all when we moved into Opposition.

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Tamaki Newsletter Update—April 2020

April 22, 2020 Share

Can I start by thanking everyone for their efforts so far as we have worked through four weeks of lock down.  Everyone has played their part to date and it is appreciated.  We must certainly acknowledge the decisions made but it is also the day-to-day actions of each and every one of us that has made the difference.  May I extend my sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones.  As I write, 13 people have died with Covid-19.  My thoughts are also with those with the virus and in particular, the 12-or-so currently in hospital.  We wish them all a speedy recovery.

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Tamaki newsletter—April 2020

April 06, 2020 Share

As I write we are approaching two weeks into the national lockdown during COVID-19 alert level four and hopefully by now we are all starting to settle into our new rhythms.

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Tamaki Newsletter Update—COVID-19

March 20, 2020 Share

Hello everyone

We are currently living in an extraordinary time. The rapid spread of COVID-19—often known as coronavirus—has been unprecedented, affecting every aspect of our lives. Even in New Zealand, where we have been relatively sheltered from the rest of the world, we are feeling the effects on every level, including on a personal level.

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Tamaki Newsletter - March 2020

March 11, 2020 Share

With Parliament well underway, I have been back to splitting my time between Wellington and Auckland. While it has been a busy time, it has also been very interesting, with lots happening in the electorate and in Parliament.

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