It is a privilege to serve as a Member of Parliament, and one of the most rewarding aspects of my role is the numerous opportunities I receive to work with local organisations and charities and to support significant community events.
Over the years I have noted that it is the dedication of members of our charitable and voluntary sectors that enables many of the things we most value in our community to occur. Without their efforts, many services that we depend upon would be unavailable.
That is why I enjoy being able to acknowledge some of them each month in my Seasons columns, and I thank all who give freely of their time and talents to serve others in our midst for your kindness.
History will recall that 2019 was marred by the horror that unfolded in Christchurch during the afternoon of 15 March. I am supportive of the campaign to set that date aside each year as a national day of reflection to ensure that we never forget what occurred, nor lose the wonderful spirit of unity and compassion that New Zealanders demonstrated in the aftermath of the mosque atrocities.
The year is also ending sadly for me and many of my local team as we mourn the deaths of Lance Coombes and Betty Blair.
Lance was a remarkable, generous and humble man who did a great deal to support many in our community and to enhance our environment.
Betty was my first Electorate Agent in Hamilton West, for six years until her retirement in 2014. She had also served Simon Upton, Tony Steele and Shane Ardern in that role for many years before my election and we all valued her extraordinary commitment, kindness and dedication to the needs of our constituents.
Both will be deeply missed, especially by their lovely families. It was my privilege to deliver tributes at each of their recent funerals.
I have had a challenging year in Parliament with a heavy Select Committee workload and numerous speeches on a wide range of challenging topics in Parliamentary debates (none of which our local media ever report!) coupled with a great deal of work contributing to the National Party’s refresh of our policies in the areas for which I have portfolio responsibility.
We have produced a number of excellent discussion documents this year setting out our thinking on important social, economic and environmental policies and everyone is invited to contribute your feedback. We are determined to have a well-developed and costed program to implement should we be given the privilege of forming the government after next year’s General Election.
Some of my personal highlights this year included being appointed Shadow Attorney-General (to add to my role as ACC spokesperson), witnessing Henry Yao of Glenview represent our electorate superbly as Youth MP for Hamilton West at this year’s Youth Parliament, and accompanying the Minister of Defence and NZDF personnel to the Middle East and South Sudan in January to study the contribution New Zealanders make to peacekeeping and UN humanitarian missions in those areas.
They serve our country superbly, as do thousands of local folk who serve our community faithfully, often inconspicuously and without seeking any recognition, but to the considerable benefit of others.
I thank you all, and my dedicated electorate office staff and parliamentary staff without whose hard work I could not fulfil my role, and my wife who sacrifices so much for me to do so.
From my family to yours – have a blessed and happy Christmas and a safe and enjoyable summer.