Overview

I have had over 20,000 constituency issues or queries since I was elected in 2008. Some of these queries involve assisting people with government departments while others relate to local issues and projects that constituents would like support with. This website only contains a snapshot of some of the local issues that I have been progressing as the MP for Auckland Central.

If you have queries about any other local issues that I may be progressing in my capacity as the MP for Auckland Central then please contact my Parliamentary Office. If you have any queries relating to my election policy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Auckland Central National Party.

Arts, Culture & Heritage

As the local MP the projects that I am most proud of are those that deliver strong heritage outcomes for the local population and I have always been a strong lobbyist for arts and culture. It gives residents and visitors to our city a high-profile world-class destination, offering a year-round programme of theatre and entertainment.

In December 2014 I was in attendance as we marked the start of work on the $36.5 million Waterfront theatre project in Wynyard Quarter. It was a great pleasure to see work being on a project I have been a big supporter of. The Theatre will seat 650 and draw some of the finest New Zealand and international talent. The history of Auckland is that heritage battles have almost always been confrontations rather than conversations so the public/private funding mix of this project is to be applauded.

Central Government is supporting this project through Creative New Zealand, as is the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board. However, this project would not have been possible without the support of ASB Bank and Auckland Council. One of the benefits of having one Auckland Council is that we can now have a much more integrated and planned approach to heritage that looks right across Auckland.

It is great to see the Mayor is focused on ensuring that both Auckland’s built and cultural heritage is better protected. I am very supportive of the Council’s heritage plan for Auckland and was happy to see the draft plan was published in November 2014.

The theatre project is another valuable addition to ‘Brand Auckland’ which follows on from the shifting of the Birdcage Hotel being shifted back to its original position. The great thing about the Birdcage Hotel was that the community was able to have a direct conversation with the developer.

I also believe that the restoration of the St James Theatre needs to happen but there is a lot of work to do before we can restore the jewel to her rightful place in our city. There are significant heritage issues and it is positive that the Mayor is getting an urgent report assessing ways to save the iconic St James Theatre. In addition to this the role of the Mercury Theatre needs to be properly considered.

At a Central Government level we reviewed the Historic Places Trust to ensure it will be better able to focus on its important regulatory role while allowing for better advocacy in local communities. We have also announced changes to the process for getting approval for archaeological consents so that they are faster, simpler, and more efficient. Continuing to support our cultural and heritage projects is integral to making Auckland a cultural hub for locals and tourists alike.

Economy

National’s prudent management of the economy over the last seven years has made New Zealand one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world. Latest figures show the economy is expected to grow by 3% a year over the next five years, better than the US, UK, Japan, Canada and the Euro area.

Interest rates are staying lower for longer, with mortgage rates still just above the lowest in fifty years. Meanwhile Incomes are rising faster than inflation, and is forecast to continue to grow over the next five years. The economy is also expected to add another 153,000 jobs by 2017 and already there are 72,000 more people employed now than this time last year.

People from around New Zealand and the world continue to make Auckland their home and choose it as the place to do their business. I have been a great supporter of the council’s move to increase the Major Events budget. In the last four years we have had the economic benefit of the Rugby World Cup and this year Auckland will again be at the centre of the sporting world hosting major games in the Cricket World Cup and FIFA U-20 football World Cup. These events will no doubt have a huge impact on Auckland’s economy and tourism industry.

Education

As more families are choosing to make Auckland their home we are seeing a huge upsurge in enrolments at Auckland Central Schools.

We are lucky that our children have access to high achieving schools, like St Mary’s, and National are focused on continuing to invest in schools and technology so that our children get access to the best possible education. Since I was elected in 2008 we have delivered more than $10 million for upgrades and new classrooms for twelve Auckland Central schools.

Meanwhile, in August 2014 the Government announced plans to invest $350 million over four years to build new schools and classrooms around the rapidly growing Auckland region. As New Zealand continues growing strongly, the school network will come under pressure in different parts of the country as the population grows and this investment will help to meet those challenges.

Environment

I’m passionate about our environment. One of the reasons I stood for Parliament is that I believe that the greatest asset our country has is our environment. I am a Bluegreen caucus member. I was a member of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee for over two and a half years. I believe that we cannot have significant environmental progress unless environmental issues move from being fringe issues to mainstream ones. Our ability to deliver a better urban environment is dependent on better waste management, water and transport policies.

The Auckland Central electorate includes a large part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. While I believe that some progress has been made with the park there is much more to do. I have worked with the forum and the Auckland Council to look at how we can strengthen the management of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

In 2015, the electorate played host to the annual Bluegreens Conference, which took place on Great Barrier Island during April 2015. The beautiful surrounds of the Island provided a picturesque setting for conference attendees.

Local Achievements

  • Involved in clean-up of Great Barrier Island beaches
  • Proposed setting up the new Aotea Conservation Park in Hauraki Gulf which opened in 2015
  • National established the Hauraki Recreational Fishing Park would extend across the inner Hauraki Gulf.

National Achievements

  • As a member of the Local Government and Environment committee I have been involved in the development of the Environmental Protection Authority and the reform of the Resource Management Act
  • Successfully opposed mining on Great Barrier Island

LGBT Community

I’m a proud supporter of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) community. Since I have been elected I have been clear that I intend to work hard to progress issues for the community and vote progressively in Parliament for the community. The Auckland Central electorate has one of the largest LGBT communities in the country. It is for this reason that I have attended about 90% of the LGBT events or meetings that I have been invited to. Our Government has also made some progress with the Ministry of Health, for the first time engaging in a formal contract with Body Positive Inc. which provides a broad range of services for people living with HIV.

I support the reform of adoption law in New Zealand. I believe the adoption law is outdated, archaic, and there are many anomalies. For instance, non-married couples aren’t currently permitted to adopt children, although people in non-marital relationships can adopt as individuals. I feel very sad that many New Zealanders who would make great parents are denied the opportunity to adopt. Everybody loses, including some of our most disadvantaged children. The guiding principle should be who would be the best parents, not what a person’s sexuality is.

There are many gay and lesbian parents doing a superb job bringing up children. Our adoption law is a barrier to this opportunity. Since last year I have been a member on a cross-party parliamentary group led by Kevin Hague MP looking at the reform of this law.I am proud of the fact that Auckland now has an annual Pride Festival. In 2011 I called for an Auckland Mardi Gras feasibility study to be considered, and have continued to support this Festival over the last four years. It not only creates a culture of greater tolerance and respect for the LGBT community.

There is also an economic benefit by bringing more international and domestic tourists to Auckland. The next few years will be exciting for the LGBT community in Auckland, with the 4th Annual Asia Pacific Outgames being hosted here in 2016. In 2015 both the Young Nats and I had a presence at the Auckland Pride Festival, participating in the events and manning a stand. I look forward to working to further LGBT issues throughout this Parliamentary term.

Local Government

As a member of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee I spent several hundred hours listening and considering submissions on the reform of Auckland’s local government system. The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance asked us to deliver a city that is able to compete successfully with Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane for people and investment, but also a city that has world-class standards and quality of life.

Our Government listened to the Royal Commission when it said that “Maintaining the status quo, or tinkering around the edges, is not the answer. Bold change is required.” Problems the Commission identified included “Messy and inefficient urban growth, infrastructure constraints, social disparity, and poor urban design …” Our city has a third of New Zealand’s population, and with 2 million people on track to be living in Auckland by 2050, I believe it was not an option for Parliament to simply maintain the status quo.

We delivered a system where Auckland has one Council with one mayor and 21 local boards. The new Auckland spatial plan provides us the opportunity to agree infrastructure priorities and make Auckland a competitive international city. The progression of Wynyard quarter by Waterfront Auckland and reduction in water prices demonstrates positive signs of the success of the new council, the CCOs and the new local boards.

Transport

National is investing more than ever in Auckland transport. The Government has recently announced a further $375 million to accelerate Auckland transport projects. This investment will help the NZTA push forward with more than $800 million worth of Auckland transport projects. This will help to reduce Auckland’s congestion so that the benefits of those projects already underway including the Western Ring Route can be felt across Auckland.

As part of the Government’s transport package for Auckland we will be delivering projects on the Northern Corridor, Southern Corridor and State Highway 20A. We have also invested $1.6 billion into the electrification of the rail network, and new electric trains and stations. The $340 million Victoria Park Tunnel is now complete and is taking more cars off our central city roads. It is great to see such an unprecedented investment in Auckland’s transport network which is another sign of Auckland’s value as the country’s business and tourism hub.