Bridges Brief - March 2020


A lot has happened since the last Bridges Brief, it’s hard to believe how much things have changed over the past month.

By now you will be in lockdown. It’s really important that we all play our part. The message could be simpler. Stay home – save lives.

New Zealanders naturally have a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to things. We can be a bit blasé.

But the health officials have laid out what we all have to do to help combat coronavirus, and we have to do it.

We have to stay at home not just for ourselves but for our parents, our grandparents, our immune-compromised friends and family members.

It will be tough but generations of Kiwis have, throughout history, made great sacrifices to safeguard our way of life. This is our turn.

This is an incredibly important time for our nation, and will come at a cost.

With New Zealand effectively shutting down while everyone is in isolation, jobs will be lost, businesses will close and may not reopen their doors.

That’s not to sound doom and gloom, but these things are our reality now.

The National Party supports the Government as it takes action against this virus. We’ve talked to experts, we’ve listened to them every day and we’ve seen the international experience. The spread of Covid-19 is relentless internationally.

So we stand alongside the Government, supporting and assisting the orderly shutdown of New Zealand.

Because this is about lives and livelihoods and for the good of our country, not politics.

The Government will continue to have our support as long as they are moving expeditiously to protect those lives and livelihoods.

We want to protect workers and their jobs as much as possible, we want to see businesses reopen once this period of isolation is over.

While we are all stuck at home, it’s important you still check on your loved ones across the country, and on your neighbours. While that check may have to be a phone call, you cannot underestimate how important that will be, especially for our elderly.

I may sound like a broken record when I say this but please remember to wash your hands, listen to the advice coming from our health professionals, and please stay calm.

We need to look after each other. We will get through this.

National’s role

The Opposition has an important role to play while we get through this. We will make sure the best decisions are being made in the interests of all New Zealanders. We will be constructive but also scrutinise the Government’s response to Covid-19. It's really important there is strong scrutiny because we're dealing with things right now that will affect a generation, both in terms of lives but also the billions of dollars that our banks will spend to help get us through. 

While Parliament is not running, I will be chairing a special Select Committee. This will sit three times a week and we will question the decision makers. I’ll be asking questions to make sure they are acting in the best interests of New Zealanders and not abusing their powers.

Effectively the Committee's role is for us to be asking the questions that New Zealanders would want answered. We'll be wanting to make sure we're getting in exactly the people New Zealanders would expect: the Minister of Health, the Director-General of Health, Mike Bush, John Ombler, the Prime Minister, Grant Robertson, the Reserve Bank Governor.

Your feedback

Me and my team of 55 MPs want to hear from you if you’re having any difficulties during the lockdown. If you need help to access the business subsidy, if you can’t get the supermarket or you’re struggling financially please let us know and we will direct you to the help you need.

Before the lockdown

Before the lockdown I addressed the Tauranga Te Papa Rotary Club. This is something I have done every year since I became and MP. It’s a great opportunity for me to let you know my thoughts about where things are at, listen to you and hear your concerns. I’m looking forward to being back next year.

I also paid a visit to New World Mt Maunganui to see how they’re coping. They’ve assured me that supply is not a problem, so remember to shop normal and don’t panic.  

At home

Like many of you, I will spending lockdown with my young children. It’s not easy for them, or for the parents. My boys are eight and six-years-old, while my little girl is two. We will do a lot of reading, playing and some baking. Importantly – I’ll be making sure they get exercise each day. Be patient with your kids. Family is the most important thing we have.

Remember stay safe, stay healthy and stay in touch.