Plains Profile December 2015

Columns
Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 has been a busy and full year for me both here in the electorate and in Wellington at Parliament. I’m always a little surprised that December seems to roll around so quickly and the time for sharing festive Christmas joy arrives so promptly.

Speaking of summer, weather forecasters are predicting that the already strong El Nino conditions we experienced during spring will continue over summer and into autumn. This will be good for those wanting a holiday at the beach but challenging for farmers.

During El Nino New Zealand tends to experience stronger or more frequent winds from the west, leading to drier conditions in the north and east.  Its important farmers plan carefully now for potential drought conditions in March, April and into May next year.

The New Zealand Veterinarian Association is advising farmers to "hope for the best, but plan for the worst". I’ve been pleased to see the visible signs of farmers doing exactly that as they make the most of spring grass growth ready for feeding out later.

 With the Christmas season come all those social events that sometimes involve higher than usual consumption of alcohol. Sadly there will be some who consume too much and even more sadly some who still drive having done so.

Since the National government was elected in 2008 there has been a strong focus on getting value out of the taxes the government spends on your behalf.

The latest technology to help prevent repeated offending by drink drivers is an example of this focus and it is being used creatively by the Corrections Department a new trial.

This involves fitting alcohol interlock devices which immobilise a vehicle if alcohol is detected on the breath of the driver.

It means offenders will not be able to drive their vehicle unless they can successfully pass a breath alcohol test and in the process save creating victims of drunken drivers.

International evidence shows the use of alcohol ignition interlocks results in a reduction of 64-70 per cent recidivism for alcohol-impaired driving.

Eligible repeat offenders who have an interlock device will also have the chance to shorten their licence disqualification period. There will be at least 100 offenders on the pilot programme this year.

This technology will save innocent lives as many road death casualties are victims of other’s poor behaviour. This will eventually help reduce tragedy which too often occurs over the holiday season.

Finally and on a happier note, I want to wish you and yours a very happy and safe Christmas.
2016 will be upon us before we know it and I’m looking forward to the opportunities the New Year will bring for the Hauraki Plains and our wider region.

Merry Christmas.
ENDS