Boom Scandal Gone
July 20 2020 by Scott Stevens
Boom Scandal Gone
I suppose 3 different MP’s in as many terms of government is par for the course in some electorates. Those contestable seats that flip and flop from Labour to National and back again. But here in the Clutha Southland, now Southland electorate we have been wrapped in the blue blanket of the National Party forever. Like it or not.
I was excited when National chose a young progressive MP in Todd Barclay after Bill English went to the list. Not that I particularly care for National over Labour but because he was not a farmer. Maybe would give a hoot about the Wakatipu a tad more than Bill did, and that hope came to pass as Todd moved into the neighbourhood in Arrowtown. He spent time with the local business community and learnt what help we needed from central government. Then BOOM. Scandal and gone.
Then along came Hamish Walker. Another likeable young bloke. Maybe a little more country than I would like but without a doubt a hard worker. He went into bat for all sorts of social, community and business-related concerns this huge and diverse electorate had. He was available at his Frankton office, answered calls and things were looking up. Life is about building relationships and with Hamish, hopes were high that the Wakatipu would have a long-term advocate. Then BOOM. Scandal and gone.
So now what? Back to square one. Despite the electoral boundary changes Southland is still Southland surprise surprise. Dominated by the farming industry to our South. In my humble opinion the boundaries are still wrong. The Queenstown Lakes District should be in one electorate. Despite our differences with Wanaka, we have more in common with that lot than the farmers to the South. Wanaka is in the Waitaki electorate. Unfortunately, another National safe seat. I say unfortunately not because of any great love for Labour, Green, Act or NZ First but because a truly contestable seat brings with it the benefit of attention from political suitors.
But let’s not dwell on the perfect fit as far as electoral boundaries, and start thinking about what we need from our next member of parliament. No farmers please. We get how important the primary industry is to New Zealand but the last viable farm in the Wakatipu was sold into lifestyle blocks and residential subdivisions years ago. Our most pressing need is someone as keen to protect the 96% of outstanding natural landscape left in the Wakatipu and the waterways that it drains into as we are. We need someone who is prepared to sit in their Frankton office with an open-door policy to every resident of the Wakatipu with a legitimate need for parliamentary help. That is our migrants with immigration trouble, our businesses with legislation trouble, our council with infrastructure trouble, families with schooling and education trouble, our whole community with health care trouble. It is a tough job as Todd and Hamish will testify to. But someone needs to do it and someone good.