OPINION: A year spent buzzing around the Beehive

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Where has the year gone?

Just like that, it’s November and 2019 is just around the corner.

As this is my last column for the year, I want to take the opportunity to thank you all for your assistance this year and thank everyone who has visited me in my office.

I have enjoyed helping many of you, and as I often say, I promise to listen to your concerns and try my hardest for you.

Here’s some achievements for the year.

Much-loved Queenstown family Sam Wijerathne and Dinesha Amarasinghe were granted residency recently.

When I first met the family last year I promised them I would do everything I could to gain them residency, which is why I organised the protest march late last year, and lobbied the Minister, meeting with him personally to explain the family’s situation.

I want to thank the Queenstown community, Tam Schurmann, from Baskets of Blessing and the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for their support.

I’m continuing to have many discussions and push for a community-owned health model for the Lakes District Hospital, which will service our needs better than what we have had.

On the housing front, I successfully lobbied the Minister to increase the housing cap by $100,000.

In August this year I was approached by the developers of Bullendale who have been waiting over a year for their Special Housing Area (SHA) to be approved which will benefit nearly 100 homes.

After a month of pushing the Associate Housing Minister who is responsible for SHAs, she hurried it along and indicated it may be through shortly.

I’ve also been lobbying the Housing Minister for several months on KiwiBuild to ensure we are getting our fair share of the pie.

Watch this space.

In the immigration space, I’ve been asking the Minister for an immigration specialist similar to a mobile manager in the Queenstown area.

I had some success in this space earlier this year after I expressed the difficulties people were having with the time taken to process visas, and an emergency phone number and email were provided.

Our businesses couldn’t survive without the amazing staff we have here in Queenstown, which is why I raised the issue with the Prime Minister at the beginning of the year.

So far there have been no cuts to immigration numbers as suggested because the government now sees what is actually going on.

I have assisted over 500 constituent cases in Queenstown this year, all of which I’ve done my best to assist.

I was also lucky enough to attend Diwali with my fiancee Penny in recent weeks, and what a beautiful celebration.

Recently I visited China to learn about different ways and methods Queenstown can handle such high tourist numbers.

I am also fighting for critical investment needed in infrastructure to help with the continued increase in tourism in the region.

In Wellington, my member’s bills, KiwiSaver (Foster Parents Opting in for Children in their care) and High-power Laser Pointers Offences and Penalties Bills are still both progressing in Parliament.

On that note, I’d like to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas period and an enjoyable New Year.

I’ll be back advocating for you in 2019.

Hamish Walker is Queenstown’s MP (Clutha-Southland constituency)