Coromandel Chronicle - February 2016

Columns
Thursday, February 18, 2016

In March we will have the final referendum about whether we change our flag. Coromandel people have strong views and they like to express them. I was pleased in the first referendum Coromandel voters had the highest North Island voter turnout at 57.48% while the national average was 48%. We all have our own views on whether the flag should be changed or not. That’s why it’s really important everyone get involved in the discussion and vote. This is the first time in our history voters have had a chance to have a say in which flag we should have. I think it’s unlikely we will get such an opportunity again for at least a generation or more.

We have to consider the two flags side by side, about which one represents us as a nation now and into the future. If you didn’t vote in the first referendum I seriously urge you to do so in the final decision.

Even with a few wet days, it has been more than obvious that higher than usual numbers of visitors holidayed and enjoyed the Coromandel during the Christmas and New Year period. Nationwide the tourism sector has been catering for its biggest summer yet after significant spring growth - international arrivals were up over 11 per cent in November.

Last year delivered our biggest tourism results on record with arrivals and spend both hitting new highs. Many New Zealanders are aware of the tourism industry’s value to our economy, not all know quite how highly it ranks.

It is now our country’s biggest services export which means more jobs, income and economic value for the whole country and locally as well. Here on the Coromandel international tourism expenditure is worth in excess of $70m while domestic tourism is $300m per year.

I’m looking forward to another busy year as the Government focuses on the issues that matter to our community and to all Kiwis - a stronger economy and more jobs, better frontline health and education services, and a safer New Zealand.

As chair of Parliament’s Local Government and Environment select committee I’m very involved with taking another look at the Resource Management Act.

These are important reforms aimed at reducing the bureaucracy around the Resource Management Act.

The new changes are designed to reduce costs and delays for home owners and businesses while at the same time improving New Zealand’s planning and environmental controls.

I am sure there will be many individuals, businesses, councils and other interested organisations wanting to have a say on these reforms.

Submissions close on Monday, 14 March 2016 and if you have an interest I invite you to make a submission.
ENDS