Can I begin by wishing everyone a Happy Easter, or to those in our Jewish community, a Happy Passover (Chag Pesach Sameach). For everyone, I hope the weekend ahead is a relaxing and enjoyable one.
There is a lot to report on in this newsletter, with much having happened locally and some developments in Wellington that I have played a key part in.
A few days ago I hosted a public meeting at St Chads in Meadowbank with Kainga Ora to discuss their proposed new developments. The hall was packed to overflowing as locals, particularly from Orakei, Meadowbank, and Glendowie, came to hear and see the plans. Importantly, I wanted the meeting to be a chance for the community to share their concerns, and it is fair to say there were many. Intensification and congestion loomed large, with concerns already around the parking situation and ability for traffic to move.
Kainga Ora were at pains to stress that while intensification is raising around 30%, it is substantially more elsewhere. While I think people appreciated this their concerns were not allayed: a 30% increase in intensification will undoubtedly have an impact on already compressed community. The question of tenancy management also was raised, and as I noted to those assembled myself, the Labour government has made it clear that they do not wish to move tenants. This in turn means much anti-social behaviour faces no consequence – Kainga Ora can try and help, but cannot move the tenant except in extreme circumstances.
My thanks again to everyone who turned out and added their voice to mine. Kainga Ora talked about moving ahead with their consents but it is important they hear the community and adapt their plans accordingly.
I was also pleased to have Penny Simmonds MP in the electorate recently. She is the MP for Invercargill and among several portfolios, she looks after Early Childhood. I was able to take her to visit one of our local pre-schools and to hear first-hand how the sector is operating and the challenges it faces.
There have been several local events I have had the opportunity to support Sacred Heart College just held its annual gala and I found myself, somewhat unexpectedly, under the dunking machine. I also joined one of our locals – Allan – as he set off to walk a half marathon dressed as an ‘Ent’ from Lord of the Rings. He is raising funds for his friend Greg and Motor Neurone Disease New Zealand.
A big focus of my last few weeks has been within the space of foreign interference. You may have seen the news about TikTok being removed from the parliamentary system or more recently, questions raised about some Chinese made cameras. What you may not know is that this has come about by the work I have been leading – notably, raising questions and challenging government to respond.
Over recent months, I have been in contact with TikTok asking about New Zealander’s data and seeking clarity around who can access it. The context is simply that Communist government in China has passed ‘national security’ laws which give them sweeping powers to access data held by Chinese firms. Whether they do or will is of course a significant consideration, but the law is also very clear that they can.
I have also been asking questions in parliament to ascertain something the government preferred to ignore – how many Hikvision and Dahua cameras are in government departments. It turns out quite a few, including in a MP’s home (not mine!) The issue has galvanised a number of allied countries such as Australia, the US, and the UK to remove said cameras but not here in New Zealand. It is my hope that these questions I have asked, and the subsequent media attention, will lead to some action.
And while a little dramatic, you may also have seen some news recently about a defector and some of my involvement in assisting him. You can read more here.
As I say, a little more dramatic but also indicates the breadth of work I do as the Member of Parliament for Tamaki.
Not is all foreign affairs related though. A significant focus has been with my Arts, Culture, and Heritage portfolio – meeting a number of people in the sector and refining the policy for the election. I will hopefully release this in a month or so. Within Internal Affairs, I am spending a lot of time focused on online gambling for, did you know, it is not regulated in New Zealand?
I hope you have seen it, but National recently released a new policy on education. We are calling it ‘Teaching the Basics Brilliantly’. We want to ensure every child gets a world-class education so when they leave school, they can lead the life they want. Firstly, National will require all primary and intermediate schools to teach an hour of reading, an hour of writing and an hour on maths, on average, every day. Secondly, we will re-write the curriculum so it says what must be taught each year in reading, writing, maths and science to every year group in primary and intermediate schools. And finally, we will require schools to assess student progress in reading, writing and maths at least twice a year every year from Year 3 to Year 8, with clear reporting to parents.
You can find out more here
THE ELECTION IS NOT FAR AWAY …
With the general election only a few months away (14 October), I would very much welcome your help and assistance. From joining the National Party here in Tamaki to letting us use your fence for hoardings, to volunteering your time – I would welcome your help and support. Drop me a line via email. Every little bit of help will go a long way in helping us change the government.
Movie Night Fundraiser – Come see the film that won 7 Oscar awards!
On the evening of Thursday 25 May we have our very popular movie night fundraiser at Silky Otter in Orakei. The movie is ‘Everything, Everywhere and All at Once’. There will be wine and pizza, a raffle, and limited seats – so let me know if you are keen and I can get you more details.
We also have Ian McKelvie MP coming to our SuperBlues Morning Tea on Friday 26 May. A way out, but mark your diaries.
Have you checked out my latest podcast? I sat down with British human rights activist Benedict Rogers of Hong Kong Watch to talk about his work in promoting human rights and his latest book, The China Nexus. You can access the podcast on Spotify here, or on Apple here.
As always, thank you for your continued support.
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