I hope this newsletter finds you well.
Parliament was called back from recess to sit on Wednesday 25th March.
During this sitting:
- The Prime Minister declared a National Emergency, which gives the Government almost unlimited powers. They can change any law and make any decision they decide is necessary e.g. fuel conservation and/or distribution, road closures, exclusion of the public etc.
- Parliament voted up to $52 billion for Government to spend on Covid-19 recovery.
- Parliament voted on two pieces of legislation, tax changes and social assistance, which included the benefit increases and doubling the winter energy payment for beneficiaries and superannuates. Plus, the changes to rental laws and some minor changes to a few other pieces of legislation - all of which had been announced previously.
- They also set up an Epidemic Response Committee to oversee Parliament and the Government's activities and decisions.
- National's leader, Hon Simon Bridges, chairs this committee, which includes 4 more National MPs, 1 Act MP, 1 Green MP, 3 Labour and 1 NZF MP. The committee has extraordinary powers and can call any official or Minister before it (remotely of course).
- The role of the Opposition is to hold the Government to account in light of its enormous and unfettered powers, which is extremely important. The questions they ask will be vital to understand why certain decisions were or were not made, what resources are available or not, and importantly to bring to the Government's attention issues that arise across the country affecting their support and/or recovery packages.
- Note Parliament met in much smaller numbers, MPs were spaced around the Chamber to ensure safe distances, about 12 from National, 1 each from Act, Greens and NZF, and 5 or 6 from Labour.
Fonterra has announced the shutdown of their ethanol plant in their Edgecumbe factory will be delayed until July 2021. That will be a relief for a great many people at this tumultuous time. As well, they have released 720,000 litres of ethanol! They usually sell this for use in alcohol, but have made it available to the NZ market to help with the provision of hand sanitiser!
There are several places you can contact if you have any questions or issues regarding the lockdown and how it affects you and your family, your livelihood and your community.
My offices are all closed, however, all my wonderful staff are working from home and can help you with information and contact details of the decision makers.
Their details are as follows:
Whakatane - 07 307 1254
Gisborne - 06 867 7571
Kawerau - 07 323 6487
Murupara - 021 869 811
Te Puke - 07 573 7125
For queries regarding essential services, you can call the dedicated line on 05 08 377 388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Work and Income offices are closed to walk ins. However, you can call 0800 559 009 for business subsidies and advice. All superannuation and benefit payments will be paid as usual.
For Bay of Plenty District Health Board appointment enquiries call 0800 333 477 and for Gisborne District Health Board call 06 869 0500.
In an emergency dial 111. If you have a matter for police that isn’t an emergency, such as travelling enquiries or you are concerned of anyone breaching lockdown regulations, call their non-emergency line on 105.
If you or a family member starts experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, call the dedicated Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
All Justice of the Peace services are suspended due to the lockdown. This includes private visits and all service desks. Check the website for further details – visit www.jpfed.org.nz
All councils will provide usual weekly collections - green waste, household waste and recycling.
All Freephone services for the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) are currently unavailable.
Online services are available for Motor Vehicle Licensing and Road User Charges – visit www.nzta.govt.nz
Remember all agencies have a high volume currently. Please be patient.
Don’t forget to frequently check the official Covid-19 website for the most up to date information – visit www.covid19.govt.nz
Finally, keep yourselves occupied during this lockdown. Get a routine going in the household, get some exercise - even a walk around the garden or the street helps keep you mentally and physically fresh. Ensure you make some 'me time'! And phone a friend!
Keep safe, stay home and save lives.
Hon Anne Tolley.