My latest newsletter covers the Government's new traffic light system, vaccination rates and certificates, Three Waters, education and housing news. There is also more information about Youth Parliament online meetings being planned with schools.
Many of you have been in touch when the Government announced the easing of restrictions in the Waikato region for towns like Cambridge to Step One of Alert Level 3, confused by what it means in simple terms. The change means very little in practical terms and like many locals, I remain in lockdown. I’ll continue to advocate for sensible like moving Cambridge back to Level 2 as risk has significantly reduced.
Then the Government also introduced a new traffic light system, called the 'COVID-19 Protection Framework' as a pathway to end the Alert Level system. Many more questions arose.
What will this traffic light system entail and how it would work? More specifically, when will the Waikato move from Alert Level 3? Will it be when Auckland reaches 90% vaccination rate or if all towns covered by our local DHB attains 90%, or will we move sooner once case numbers drop?
How will vaccination certificates work and what about the continuing effects of lockdown on our schools and students unable to return to school until towns move alert levels, but conditional on vaccination rates reaching 90%?
Interim figures obtained from DHBs suggest optimistically we may only reach 90% fully vaccinated across the electorate by mid-December.
So many questions remain and I look forward to returning to the House when parliamentary recess is over to get honest, clear answers from the Government. They are still refusing to share any health advice with us as Opposition or you as the New Zealand public.
In the meantime, while everyone's attention is diverted, the Government has decided to mandate Councils to hand over control of their Three Waters assets to four centralised entities. This decision confirms National's earlier warnings that the Government is set on disregarding democracy and forcing their will on communities and their local elected members instead.
Many have asked - what National will do? I have been unequivocal in my view opposing the Government's asset grab attempts and have been in ongoing engagement with our three Mayors and other community representatives on this issue. A National-led Government will repeal the legislation and instead work in partnership with Councils, not force a broken model on them. My newsletter elaborates further.
In other news, National has released its ideas to supercharge housing supply make the investment in purpose-built rental housing in New Zealand easier. These are welcome initiatives in an area that is a struggle for most, the high cost of housing, homeownership and lack of rental properties. More of that in the newsletter too.
National's Back in Business Plan was also recently released. It contains a clear roadmap to open our economy and it details how we will support businesses, especially in the hard-hit tourism, hospitality, and events sectors. I've been hosting several community zoom meetings with businesses, business associations, and Chambers of Commerce to discuss the strategies in our Plan. The feedback has been positive and encouraging so far.
Finally, as our senior students still grapple with lockdowns while trying to prepare for NCEA exams, I'm looking for our next Taupō Youth MP. As I could not physically go and meet students at schools during the lockdown, we have continued our campaign online through zoom meetings with schools, details of meeting dates on 1, 2 and 4 November on my website.
My team and I are still working from home in Cambridge, and the Taupo office is open if you need any in-person assistance. Please do not hesitate to reach out by phone and email.
I hope you and your family are keeping well. Keep staying in touch!
Traffic light system - what is it?
Based on the Government's logic, the traffic light system intends to kick in once all DHBs in an alert level area reaches 90% vaccination rates. However, towns in our Taupo electorate covers two DHBs, and some towns are in alert level 2 (Taupo and South Waikato towns) and others in alert level 3 (Cambridge). The Government has indicated that Auckland needs to wait until all three DHBs have met the 90% rate, but it is less clear how it will work for the rest of New Zealand and whether everyone moves together to the traffic light system or whether it will be phased.
The Lakes DHB (covering Taupo District) is currently sitting at 80% vaccination rate for one dose and 64% for two doses. In the Waikato DHB, Cambridge is currently sitting at 90% vaccination rate for one dose and 73.5% for two doses. South Waikato district towns of Tirau, Putaruru, Tokoroa is sitting at 78.4% and 57.4% respectively.
The question remains - when will Cambridge move out of Alert Level 3, is it when Auckland reaches 90%, or all towns in the Waikato DHB reaching 90%? At this rate, it appears we will only move out of lockdown around 7 December. What happens if we have no more cases but other towns are yet to reach 90% in our district?
We urgently need clarity and honesty from the Government about what is next so that our community, our businesses and our schools can plan a little further ahead than just a week at the moment.
The new system will require a law change to the Covid-19 Response Act which will address issues around vaccination certificates and I look forward to the debate in the House.
Vaccinations and Certificates
National’s position on vaccinations and the vaccine certification is straightforward. We support short term widespread use of proof of vaccination as we continue the vaccination drive to get as many Kiwis vaccinated as possible.
As Kiwis get vaccinated, the Government should be relaxing restrictions on them. We don't support or agree with the Government's plan to impose restrictions on the mandatory use of vaccine certificates after we have hit their vaccine target of 90% across all DHBs.
What's more concerning is that while we've been calling for reliable proof of vaccination to be available since February this year, the Government is still planning the vaccine certificate process. As a result, many events in the electorate have been cancelled or postponed unnecessarily while the Government has been asleep at the wheel.
In National's Back in Business plan released October 2021, we propose allowing businesses where all staff are fully vaccinated to operate as normal under Level 2 if they choose to, and allow fully vaccinated staff who work for any business to cross regional lockdown boundaries upon completion of a rapid antigen test at the border, or evidence of a negative daily test.
We also said that under Level 3 lockdown, we would allow fully vaccinated people to go to work, attend events, use gyms, or visit restaurants and bars showing proof of vaccination upon entry. National believes in private property rights, free enterprise and freedom of choice. The decision to allow vaccinated people on your premises should be over to a business to determine and over to individuals to decide and we would pass legislation if it is required to make this easier.
We do not support the Prime Minister’s characterisation of a two-tiered system of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. We should not be naming and shaming people if they haven’t been vaccinated, but support them to be vaccinated where they can be.
National's plan to supercharge vaccinations are here.
National's Back in Business Plan
As we are heading towards two years of lockdowns, New Zealand’s economy has been hammered by Covid-19. Businesses are suffering and many have closed. Our domestic tourism, hospitality, accommodation and events sectors have all been hit hard by regular restrictions on travel, distancing requirements and capacity limits. National has released its Plan to save livelihoods and unleash our economy. Read more about the plan here.
Three Waters - What will National do?
A National-led Government will repeal the legislation and instead work in partnership with Councils, not force a broken model on them.
We are not fixated on just one model, instead, we will explore a range of ideas. Ideas such as working in partnership with Councils and not over the top of them, or forcing a broken model on them. Councils could get together and form Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) for example Watercare in Auckland. Councils could collaborate with or contract other high-performing councils to manage their water assets. We would also look at the option of co-funding partnerships between central and local governments.
There are plenty of mechanisms the Government could look at instead of their ideological centralisation scheme. The next National Government will unwind the four entities and we’ll return seized assets to local control.
More than 55,000 have now signed the Stop the Three Waters asset Grab.
The Government's announcement on 27 October that students in Years 11 - 13 but at alert level 3 could go back to school with conditions on 15 November means that there is no hope for students in earlier years. Students about to sit NCEA have missed vital face to face time with teachers.
Online learning in lockdown has been incredibly varied. As a result, students have vastly different levels of preparedness for NCEA.
National urges the Government to reopen schools for year 9-10 students as soon as possible. These are critical developmental years that prepare students for their important NCEA years. Saying “more work” needs to be done simply demonstrates how unprepared the Government are and their complacency about the damage missed class time is doing to students.
More on this issue in Paul Goldsmith, Spokesperson for Education's press release.
National has worked constructively with the Government in support of a new Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to amend the Resource Management Act to make it easier for New Zealanders to build more houses.
In April this year, National drafted a Bill that would require local authorities to zone more space for new housing, drastically cutting consent requirements for those wishing to build new dwellings whether through intensification or greenfields development.
The Government saw merit in the bill and have agreed to work with National on the new Bill. The changes it contains will allow New Zealanders to do more on their land without needing resource consent, reducing the time, cost and complexity that too often greets those who want to build new dwellings.
Build to rent
National has also announced the Boost Build-to-Rent Housing Bill – our plan to unlock investment in purpose-built rental housing in New Zealand, which will provide greater security of tenure, professional landlord services, and the experience of living in newly built accommodation.
The Bill would:
- exempt Build-to-Rent developments from some aspects of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 in the same way as retirement villages, rest homes, and student hostels, and
- Second, the Bill would ensure the Built-to-Rent properties are treated as commercial buildings for the purposes of the Income Tax Act 2007.
We are hopeful the Government would seize the opportunity to adopt a Bill that will greatly supercharge housing supply in New Zealand.
Youth Parliament 2022
Are you Taupō's next Youth MP 2022? I'm eagerly awaiting applications from young people in the Taupō electorate to represent their youth community at New Zealand’s next Youth Parliament 2022 held on 18 – 20 July 2022.
Applicants will need to email in an application form and short CV, with a brief pitch of about 500 words about a community or youth project they intend to undertake during their tenure [email protected] by no later than noon on 8 November.
Shortlisted interviews will take place in mid-November, with the successful Youth MP announced mid-December.
Online information sessions
I will be hosting online information sessions on 1, 2 and 4 November. Details on how to join the meetings are on my website.
Opportunities to meet me
I am regularly scheduling online meetings on a variety of topical discussions and the best way you can stay in touch at the moment is to connect with me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and sign up to receive my monthly newsletters.
I host regular Live with Louise sessions on Facebook, and upcoming dates are below. Please send me your questions and join me on the night to have them answered. You can watch our last session here if you missed it.
- Tuesday 9 November, 8pm
- Tuesday 9 December, 8pm
You can also watch my speeches in the House here.
Join the Debate
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