Plenty to do before leaving

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Sometimes the timing just feels right.

That is the feeling I had ahead of my announcement last week that I would not seek re-election as the MP for the Waitaki at the next election.

After 25 years in public service, firstly in local government and then serving as your MP, the time has come for me to move my focus into other areas of my life.

As many of you will be able to appreciate, the Waitaki electorate is one of New Zealand’s biggest and most diverse.

I have loved being able to represent its communities, from Central Otago through to North Otago and into the Mackenzie Basin and South Canterbury.

While last week’s announcement was significant, it is business as usual for me for the next 18 months.

And there are two absolute certainties in the time I have left.

The first is that I have unfinished business that I want to complete before my time as the MP for Waitaki ends.

As I wrote in my column last month, I want to see a serious upgrade of the health services available in Central Otago.

There is irony in the Budget being labelled the “Wellbeing Budget”, but there is nothing funny about it.

The reality is, Labour is aiming most of its health spending on changing structure and letterheads through its reform of the health system.

What is desperately needed instead is an expanding of services, employing more doctors and nurses and paying for more hospital beds.

Under Labour, wait times for surgery and specialist assessments have blown out and health spending should be spent on New Zealanders and their medical needs.

I’ll continue to work hard for our communities to get the hospital beds and the services they need, particularly in the areas that have continued to fall short including maternity, specialist appointments and cancer detection and treatment.

The other certainty is that I will continue to support my National colleagues as they seek to lead New Zealand to a better future.

The Budget continued Labour’s track record of out of control spending which is set to put even more pressure on an economy battling a cost-of-living crisis.

What our country, including our communities in Central Otago, needs is strong and decisive leadership that helps take the increasing pressure off New Zealanders’ pockets.

I believe National has the people to do exactly that in my caucus colleagues led by Christopher Luxon and deputy Nicola Willis.

In the months ahead I will be doing all I can to support them.