A Word from Joseph Mooney, Southland MP


More workers after National lobbying

As the evenings get longer and the sun shines a little brighter over this incredible part of the world, summer will be here before we know it.

When fruit ripens and there is work to do on Central Otago orchards and vineyards, there will be more workers to call on following strong lobbying from National.

The Government’s recent changes to immigration policy mirrored much of what National proposed in its Covid contribution visa concept, which we rolled out nearly two months earlier.

I have been a strong advocate for sensible immigration policies throughout the pandemic.

Common sense also prevailed earlier this year when the Government succumbed to pressure to allow in vital recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers from Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the first of those vital workers, a group of 83 from Vanuatu that made it to Central Otago just a matter of days ago.

Immigration changes represent some of the needs of our region being addressed, but there is plenty of work to do and I am working hard to facilitate change.

There are still families cut off from each other and still vitally important doctors, nurses and aged-care workers desperate to enter New Zealand.

As well as widespread labour shortages, there is plenty of uncertainty across Central Otago because of the establishment of the Delta variant in New Zealand.

In response to that, our region needs a plan.

Firstly, it would address the South being left in the limbo of [Alert] Level 2 while we are clear of Covid. My fellow South Island National MPs and I wrote to the Prime Minister on September 22 asking her to share the expert advice she had relied on to keep the South Island in Level 2 given we have not had any cases for almost a year.

We are yet to receive an answer.

With the gravity of change in New Zealand’s Covid situation because of Delta and the Government moving away from its elimination strategy that we all worked hard for, a new strategy is urgently required.

Before those strategies become realities the Government needs to offer support for businesses and vital employers, who have been doing it tough for more than 18 months.

Strengthening and creating processes around domestic travel and tourism will put New Zealand in a position to apply the same processes to our borders.

Home isolation trials are a good place to start, but we need to build on those.

It needs leadership and the same kind of dedication our Central Otago business community has displayed to keep going through lockdowns and the same kind of diligence our communities have shown to keep our region Covid-free.