Opinion: Time to roll up the sleeves and go into battle

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Happy New Year!

Christmas has been and gone and I’d like to wish you all happy holidays.

For those in the Queenstown area for the holidays, welcome, we hope you enjoy our piece of paradise as much as we do.

For those still here working away or spending time with family, enjoy!

I hope you have managed a break and spent it with those most important to you.

I closed the door on 2018 knowing we have achieved some wonderful things in the Queenstown Lakes area.

Looking to the future, it’s going to be another busy 12 months here in the district and I will be working hard to help get the issues addressed which we continue to battle.

Immigration continues to be an ongoing issue in the area, and I wrote to the Minister at the end of last year again highlighting my concerns.

While his logic is everything can be done online via the Immigration New Zealand website, I know this is not good enough and will continue to lobby him for an immigration specialist for Queenstown.

This time of year is incredibly busy in the area as visitors travel from both near and far to our wonderful piece of the world.

This time of year also highlights Queenstown’s need for investment in infrastructure, as facilities are pushed to the limits.

I will continue to advocate hard in this space in 2019, as our visitor numbers continue to rise without added investment from the government.

Big win: Hamish Walker with Sri Lankan couple Sam Wijerathne and Dinesha Amarasinghe last year during their successful bid for permanent residency

Lakes District Hospital is just one of the many examples of this, and while the news about the formation of a proposed new hospital is promising, we need more investment.

A new hospital would help address many of the issues, but what needs to be recognised is the area’s transient population.

Housing is another area where we are seeing some movement, and it is fantastic the old Wakatipu High School site will feature new homes.

The pressing need right now in the area is worker accommodation, and providing relief needs to be at the forefront of the government’s minds.

There is still a long way to go, though, as more houses are needed than what is being built.

I will continue to bring these issues to the Minister’s attention, as it is creating widespread issues for the electorate.

It’s gearing up to be a busy 2019, and as always my door is open.

I promise to do my best to assist you in the best way possible, and look forward to seeing many of you on my travels in the next 12 months.

Hamish Walker is Queenstown’s newly-married MP (Clutha-Southland electorate)