Happy to serve Central as a list MP

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Hello Central Otago.

This is my first column as a Labour list Member of Parliament (elected in 2020), who lives in Dunedin and has the privilege of flying the Labour flag in the wider Otago Region in the electorates of Waitaki and the curiously named Southland electorate. One of the features of the MMP (mixed member proportional representation) electoral system is the creation of “list MPs”.

Political parties choose how to use list MPs and in my case spend a lot of time on environmental, planning and housing issues around the country as well as spending time in this beautiful southern part of Te Waipounamu.

I do not have an office or the constituent staff that electorate MPs have. Instead I travel around when I can, visiting mayors and councils, accompanying ministers on visits to ski fields and airports, amazing community groups, health providers, environmental advocates, markets and businesses.

When I was growing up in Dunedin my family always spent a lot of time in Central Otago, enhanced by my younger brother’s love of skiing, introduced to him by friends who were active in the Otago Ski Club.

As a teenager and student I planted some of the first vines at Carrick and sandbagged in Lowburn during the November 1999 floods.

I studied ecology and law at the University of Otago which included field trips focused on the alpine tussock ecosystem. My first appearance in court was in a hall in Alexandra.

My husband, oncologist Chris Jackson, and I have three children and we are lucky to spend holidays here, often showing visiting friends around Central Otago.

I am very much looking forward to welcoming international visitors back.

On that note, last week’s Budget had $54million for the innovation programme for tourism recovery and a further $5.125million in support for tourism networks.

I’m proud of the wage subsidy and other support that provided security during uncertain Covid times.

This Budget provides for increased access to health services for rural areas; more police; improved air ambulance services; more social houses; income assistance for low to middle income earners; significant decarbonisation measures; and back to surplus in 2024. It is a very good Budget for rural areas and hard-hit tourist areas.

Thanks for reading and please say hi if you see me visiting your part of Otago. To get in contact email Rachel.brooking@parliament.govt.nz