Barbara's Beat No.4

What have I been up to...

Parliament’s recent three-week recess gave me the perfect opportunity to visit a few rural communities across the country and at home.

Wearing my Food Safety hat, I discovered Timaru is the most condensed food bowl in NZ. It was surprising to see the range of food produced there. But, as with most industries nationwide, staff shortages are proving stressful for their owners.

Te Hāpua is a lovely, remote place right at the top of the North Island. It was so good to see student engagement at both Te Hāpua and Ngataki schools as part of my visit on Parliamentary Education Day.

The above photo is from Otorohanga’s Howl of a Protest event on July 16. I’ve never seen the town so full. It was a fantastic turnout across the country by thousands of people — Rural NZ you are amazing!

Finally, it was tremendous to have fellow MP Simon Bridges in New Plymouth on July 26.

Things I've been discussing...

Government policy affects our rural communities so engagement at all levels is vital.

Emergency responses need to be communicated well, particularly in more remote and rural communities. While the recent floods have been handled well in the main, there have been some learnings about responses in some areas that need to be noted and adjustments made.

Geothermal is a very constant supply of energy compared with hydro, wind or solar.  As we transition to renewal energy in NZ and away from coal, we search for ways to re-use the infrastructure. 

I spent time in Taranaki with Ara Ake and Orion hearing about some impressive energy ideas in the making.  It was great that out of the nine projects, there were a number focussing on agriculture and rural environments. People are seriously thinking about ways to help with the carbon emissions.

This weekend...

With so many disruptions to our Party events over the past year and a half, I am looking forward to having everyone together at our 85th National Conference in Auckland this weekend. It will be wonderful to be engaging with members from all regions and I am particularly looking forward to our rural session.

Sometimes we win...

It’s the little things that count sometimes as an MP.  Like being able to help a constituent keep a valued member of staff at a medical centre recently.  

The general manager had originally been refused a critical purpose visa for American physician associate as he was not deemed a critical worker. Physician associates were made ineligible thanks to a definition change made in April.

But these positions being discussed nationwide in future proofing our health services — to fill the gaps of the GP shortage and also prevent burnout the majority of our GPs are already suffering from. But if they are unable to enter the country this will impact all health services.

So I wrote Minister of Health Andrew Little and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi about it. Thankfully, Minister Faafoi saw common sense and has added them to the critical health worker border exemption list.

News from me to you

If you follow me on Facebook, you can see all my latest posts — including a recent one titled Words Do Matter. It’s a topic I’ve been very vocal on of late.

The language, we speak is the language we think, and Rural NZ needs better than what’s it’s hearing most days.
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