It is hard to believe we are now well over halfway through the year and while we will likely still have some frosty mornings to contend with before we can say goodbye to winter, there are encouraging signs of spring in our district with the arrival of new lambs and spring flowers starting to appear.
Immigration difficulties and concerns about local road safety continue to be two of the major issues that people are contacting me about. Ongoing concerns about the intersection between SH73 and Weedons Ross Road in West Melton have prompted the West Melton District Residents' Association to launch a petition to try and get the Government to approve funding for urgent safety work at this location as identified in the 2018 Canterbury Regional Land Transport Plan (CRLTP). I myself have raised this issue with the NZTA a number of times and I encourage concerned Selwyn residents and motorists to sign this petition.
Lincoln University merger proposal off table
I am relieved that the Government has decided to abandon a proposal for Lincoln University to merge with the University of Canterbury. While I understand the decision was made because of the high costs involved, I believe that a merger would have diminished Lincoln's special character and hampered its critical focus on the issues facing our land-based sector. It is vital however that the Government continues to support Lincoln University as a stand-alone institution and does not try to wind back its support of the institution in any respect and I will continue to advocate for this.
More certainty around postnatal care
While it is some years ago now, as my children are both currently at University, I still remember the huge sense of amazement and responsibility I felt when I became a mum. Good support and advice in these first few days can help immensely with the adjustment from pregnancy to caring for a newborn. If you have never had a baby before it can be a daunting time and support with breastfeeding and time to recover from the birth are essential. Many new mums have told me that they wish they had been able to stay in hospital for another day or so.
However most people do not know that new mums are entitled to 48 hours of care in a postnatal facility and doctors and midwives are not obliged to tell them, which means that many new mums miss out on having the level of postnatal care that they may want. My colleague Louise Upston has put forward a Bill that would guarantee every new mother a minimum of 72 hours in a postnatal facility. Not only that, but lead maternity carers would be obliged to tell their patients about this entitlement.
I believe that new mums should be supported and have more choices in their postnatal care. Giving them the option of staying for three days would mean that they could stay if they felt they needed to, or leave earlier if they felt confident and able to do so.
Number of children in benefit-dependent homes on rise
Since the current government came into office 15,500 more people are receiving jobseeker benefits. There are almost 1.2 million children in New Zealand, and at last count, 176,000 of those children were in benefit dependent households – or almost 15 per cent.
What that means is that more than one in seven Kiwi kids come from homes dependent on a benefit. Since the Government came into power, that’s increased by 4,000. Children in long-term benefit dependent households are more likely to suffer adverse health effects, poorer educational achievements and reduced aspirations.
Benefits are an important safety net for Kiwis who need a helping hand when times get tough. But the surest way out of poverty is through work, so it is important that adults who can work are encouraged to work. Employers are crying out for workers, and I know that here in Selwyn there are many roles in sectors such as hospitality and agriculture that are currently unfilled.
The previous Government’s social investment approach provided tailored support to the specific and complex needs of welfare recipients so that they could move into paid work. Coming off a benefit is an important step in breaking the cycle. In not supporting and motivating benefit recipients into paid employment, the Government is failing New Zealand’s children.
Out and about in Selwyn
Virtual reality at the airport
On Tuesday 13th August I enjoyed receiving a demonstration of a virtual reality training tool being used to train firefighters at Christchurch International Airport. This virtual reality tool has been developed locally here in Canterbury in collaboration with the airport company and its firefighters. The tool enables the firefighters to train for real life emergencies by becoming familiar with the systems and layout inside aircraft. I was amazed by how real it seemed when I was given the opportunity to try out this training tool!
New rescue helicopters for Canterbury
I recently attended the unveiling of two new air ambulance helicopters for the Canterbury region. Here in Selwyn there are many remote areas which take several hours to access by road from Christchurch Hospital so the service provided by rescue helicopters is vital to ensure that those involved in accidents or suffering from serious health emergencies can receive treatment as quickly as possible.
Hon Amy Adams