The official opening of Parliament last month signalled the start of a busy time leading up to Christmas.
After being officially sworn in as an MP and all of the formalities that followed, I’ve delivered my maiden speech, been appointed as a member of Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee and driven more than 10,000km around Clutha-Southland to get a firm grasp on the issues, opportunities and challenges facing the electorate.
In Queenstown, I’ve had some good engagement with local government, key stakeholders and constituents regarding the very big issues which face our district.
This has included meetings with Queenstown mayor Jim Boult and district councillors, Destination Queenstown CEO Graham Budd, Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust executive officer Julie Scott, Queenstown Airport CEO Colin Keel, Otago Lakes-Central Area police commander inspector Olaf Jensen, Downtown Queenstown general manager Steve Wilde, Queenstown Chamber of Commerce then-chairman Richard Thomas and Shotover Primary School principal Ben Witheford.
I’ve also been the guest speaker at the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce business lunch, attended the official launches of Orbus Queenstown and the Lakes District Hospital Foundation, visited the Wakatipu Youth Booth and Citizens Advice Bureau office in Queenstown, met with the Shaping Our Future Queenstown steering group and attended Queenstown monthly interagency and tourism discussion group meetings.
It’s one of the great perks about this job, meeting so many passionate people from the electorate, especially so many who are doing their bit to make it a better region and home for us all.
Some of the most common issues I’m hearing about at these meetings and events, and from constituents coming through my Queenstown office, are immigration, housing, transport and tourism. On an almost daily basis, I’m contacted by people concerned about cuts to migrant numbers and the impact this could have on businesses.
Prior to the election Labour was going to reduce migration by 20,000 to 30,000 people. New Zealand First was going to cut it by 60,000.
Now they’re saying they’re not fixated on the numbers.
The government needs to be clear about its immigration policy so Queenstown businesses can plan their growth with confidence.
They simply can’t kneecap industries like tourism, farming and international education with unrealistic immigration policies – and I’ll certainly be fighting for you all on this.
Many people have asked me what sort of impact I can make as an opposition MP.
With 56 MPs, the National Party is the largest single party in opposition since MMP was introduced.
Because we are such a strong and unified team, we are well-placed to hold the coalition government to account for every decision, statement and choice they make.
More than 1.1 million New Zealanders voted National at the election, and we won’t let them down.
It has been a whirlwind three months settling in to this role, but I’m loving it.
And I’m looking forward to what 2018 will bring.
I encourage you to get in touch with me with your feedback, queries or concerns.
Email me at hamish.walkerMP@parl-iament.govt.nz or pop into my Queenstown office at 1085 Frankton Road to make an appointment.
Until next year, wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Hamish Walker is the Clutha-Southland MP