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I trust your week is going well. As mentioned in my previous newsletter, I’ve recently returned from a trip to South Korea focused on strategic defence in the Asia-Pacific region, in order to protect our nation and our neighbours in the Pacific. On this note, I’m concerned by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway and his handling of the Sroubek case. Read all about this and more in my latest update.

South Korea

I returned from a conference in South Korea a few weeks ago where the focus was on strategic defence in the Asia-Pacific region. I spoke on the topic and discussed these matters with a variety of officials from around the region. I also had the chance to meet with my counterparts in trade and foreign affairs in Korea. I had, for example, a very enjoyable and insightful meeting with Mr Hong, Korea’s Trade, Industry, Energy, SMEs, and Startups Committee Chair. We had much to discuss, including how our 2015 Free Trade Agreement is going and, at the New Zealand Embassy’s request, I had the pleasure of gifting a bottle of NZ wine as a thank you.

An enjoyable and insightful meeting with Mr Hong who is Korea’s Trade, Industry, Energy, SMEs, and Startups Committee Chair. Lots of talk about how including how our 2015 Free Trade Agreement is going.

It was also a pleasure to meet Representative Na Kyung-won. She came to New Zealand a few years ago as a Prime Minister’s Fellow and has been Chair of Korea’s Foreign Affairs Committee. We also had much to discuss, including our mutual good friend Melissa Lee MP. 

A pleasure to meet Representative Na Kyung-won. She came to NZ a few years ago as a PM’s Fellow and has been Chair of Korea’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

I also had the chance to visit the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), which was a fascinating experience. Since becoming the Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade committee last year, I’ve felt it important to visit our troops overseas whenever possible. I’m conscious Parliament is part of the decision-making process to deploy troops (though the final decision is in the hands of the Executive). As such, I feel an obligation to see and hear first-hand how the decisions we’ve made affect those on the ground. We have several officers at the DMZ including some in charge of the single phone line by which the North and South communicate.

I’ve been left with many impressions of the DMZ, but the one that stands out most was how the southern side of the border is filled with trees, modern buildings, and tar sealed roads. Yet as one looks over the border, the roads turn immediately to gravel, there are buildings but with no glass in the windows, and no trees. Every tree has been cut down on the northern side for heating. As a consequence, you can see tremendous erosion on the hills (as well as the heavy artillery which is prepared to fire into Seoul). But both sides have one thing in common though – both sides are littered with loads of barbed wire, pillboxes, and heavy weapons.

Iain Lees-Galloway and the Sroubek saga

I’ve been very concerned by the way Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has handled the Sroubek case. Apparently, the Minister took less than an hour to grant residency to a convicted drug-dealer who spent time behind bars for smuggling MDMA (ecstasy) into the country and forced a family into witness protection. Sroubek has also faced charges for kidnapping, aggravated robbery, passport fraud, and blackmail. Lees-Galloway’s lazy and reckless approach in this instance simply isn’t good enough for a Minister with the duty to serve and protect the people of New Zealand. It raises serious questions about his competence in general.

Mission Bay beach and Guy Fawkes

Like many of you I was very disappointed to see the state Mission Bay beach was left in after Guy Fawkes night. Our beaches are a great asset not only to residents of Tamaki but the region as a whole. There’s also the wider issue of how we look after our beaches in general. I get frequent feedback from locals about overflowing rubbish bins and the lack of any recycling bins. I'd welcome any thoughts or feedback you have around any of this.

Simon Bridges in the neighbourhood

Along with Paul Goldsmith MP, I was pleased to host the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges, at a public meeting last week. The hall was overflowing and I apologise to all those who had to remain standing. It was great to introduce Simon to those attending and have their questions answered. As a number noted, he was very impressive in person and I look forward to hosting him again in the New Year.

Annual Tamaki Debate

Thank you to everyone who came along to enjoy a tremendous evening at the annual Tamaki Debate. The evening was a fantastic success. ‘Has Politics Lost Its Spark’ was the question which was very ably debated with great humour by my colleagues Judith Collins, Paul Goldsmith, Chris Penk, and Simeon Brown. I’d say it was a far more enjoyable evening than the one had by those who left such a mess on Mission Bay beach. I look forward to seeing even more of you there next year.

MP colleagues – Chris Penk (Helensville), Judith Collins, Simeon Brown (Pakuranga), Paul Goldsmith (Epsom) – at the Great Tamaki Debate.

Tamaki welcomes new baby Gentoo penguins

Finally, you may have seen we have two very cute new additions to the family at Sea Life Kelly Tarlton's. It’s a good opportunity to get down there and see them with the kids and grandkids - or perhaps you could make it a date! 

That’s all from me for now – keep well; I will be in touch again soon.

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