The National – led Government has been in office for 12 months and it’s a good idea to use such a milestone to review what we said we were going to do and assess what has actually been achieved.
“The first 100 days” was the catch-cry, and true to our word, a number of Bills were introduced to the house that achieved our election policy statements.
One of these was the desire to put the victim at the centre of the crime, not the criminal. As a result of the Sentencing (Offender Levy) Bill, the Criminal Levy Law has been passed by parliament and all convicted offenders now have to pay a $50 levy. This money will go towards assisting the victims of crime in the pursuit of justice.
The Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill, which sanctions the compulsory DNA testing of criminals, will enable the police to solve crimes more promptly and in fact, resolve unsolved crimes from years past.
And while were talking about criminal activity, penalties have been stiffened for boy racers and nuisance- makers who think it’s clever to make our roads unsafe and harass people trying to go about their lawful lives.
One of the more disturbing aspects of recent parliamentary process has been observing the opposition’s argument against these pieces of legislation. The opposition has argued that the Bills have removed individual’s rights and freedoms.
The rights of the few that flout the laws of the land have to be put to one side to safeguard the rights of the many. We cannot deny the importance of societal wellbeing as articulated by organisations such as the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Community values must be held in the highest regard as they are what bind us and keep us safe.
On a local level, I look back on a year where I have worked on a number of educational issues within rural communities. As a result of this there is now a more reliable power supply to some small schools and I have seen the development of new classrooms and technology suites – developments that are set to continue.
Issues around bus services in rural communities continue to be ironed out – there have been some successes but ongoing problems in some areas will keep me busy.
I remain determined to get more employers and tertiary providers working together and forming strong ties. In my view tertiary education needs to be in synch with industry and business needs, such a relation ship ensures that education is focused, relevant and of the highest quality. Education cannot happen in isolation. When people speak of skills shortages they’re telling me that tertiary providers aren’t meeting industry needs. It’s of no use to train people in one set of skills when another is in greater demand.
Water has been a contentious issue and looks set to remain so. To the north I have been assisting Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Ltd to better meet the conditions required of this community initiated irrigation scheme. In the Marlborough Sounds I was delighted to support the Okiwi Bay community access the necessary funding in order to deliver a first class community water scheme. Some Kiwi ingenuity and a “can do” attitude on behalf of the community also helped a great deal – well done.
The provision of Kaikoura health services including the replacement of the old hospital is being looked at now. The Canterbury District Health Board has been very helpful regarding rural health provision; there is a clear understanding of current difficulties being faced by the Kaikoura hospital when it goes for annual accreditation. The building’s age is a major stumbling block and a thriving tourist town needs better facilities to ensure provision of quality healthcare services.
Advocating for the communities you serve often results in a great many small achievements for groups or individuals; they may not amount to headline news but they are important none-the-less, and the work gives a great deal of satisfaction.