Water, water everywhere… (Aroha Times)

Columns
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We’ve had more than our fair share of rain over the last couple of months. Our region dodged a bullet from cyclone Cook over Easter but the heavy rain only added more water onto already sodden pastures and into our rivers. We haven’t had that much water to cope with for many years. Farmers are still recovering and some have had to move stock to drier areas. The Rural Support Trust is ready, willing and able to help those impacted. By and large the flood protection system worked as it should have and we saw water in designated flood plain areas where usually we don’t. What the recent heavy weather has reminded us all is that systems need to be constantly maintained and monitored. Just because they aren’t used every season doesn’t mean they won’t be needed in the future.


Changes to Immigration Policy
I’m pleased Prime Minister Bill English has committed to a "Kiwis first" immigration policy. Entry access has been tightened and barriers raised. That said it’s a tricky thing to get the balance exactly right. We need experienced and willing workers to support our growing economy. Farmers and business operators continue to tell me they are having difficulty finding suitable staff, so turning off the immigration tap completely just isn’t an option. 


The tough new rules categorise high and low-skilled temporary work visas depending on how much a person earns, introduce a three-year limit for how long low-skilled workers can stay and impose a one-year stand-down period.


These are good sensible changes designed to get the balance right between reinforcing the temporary nature of essential skills work visas and encouraging employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them.


I’d much rather be taking a tough stance on immigration than facing a return to the massive ‘brain drain’ we had previously when about 40,000 New Zealanders a year were voting with their feet, just upping sticks and leaving to find a brighter future overseas. Thank goodness many of them are now coming come in droves.

Wage Boost for Care Workers
‘About time’ is what most people will be saying after an historic agreement was reached to give some of the country’s lowest paid care workers a share in a $2 billion pay equity settlement over the next five years.


It recognises the work carried out by the 55,000 workers in aged and disability residential care, plus home and community support services across the country. From July 1 this year dedicated and predominantly female workforce who are mostly on or around minimum wage will receive a pay rise between around 15 and 50 per cent depending on their qualifications and or experience.


Good news for all and ‘about time’.