The year in Parliament has been a fascinating one for me as a first term Government backbencher. I have learnt a lot about the legislative process and democracy in New Zealand in this time. Whilst it may look and sound a little scrappy in the House at times, I have no doubt that we have a very sound system of democracy in place. While the Government will usually get its bill passed, the debate over legislation certainly impacts on the end result in many cases.
The past week has seen a lot of legislation move through Parliament as the year in Wellington comes to an end. Much of it has been bills that have general agreement of all parties, and therefore move through with less debate required. To get to this stage they have been discussed with other parties, debated during readings in the House, and considered by select committee. Thus, general agreement will have been reached. The other bills that have cross party agreement are the Treaty claim bills, which Minister Finlayson is making great progress with.
One of my interests as a rural-based Member of Parliament is the effect that legislation and government policy have on our smaller rural communities, and what influence I may have on that. The recent White Paper for Vulnerable Children is a case in point where the solutions in small town New Zealand will need resources applied in a different manner than cities.
The slow but sure move to urbanisation throughout the world is another factor which we consider as we plan for the future, upgrading waste water treatment plants, drinking water, underground infrastructure, roads, and communications in rural New Zealand. Do we want this drift to continue in this country, and if not how do we provide opportunity for people to live and work in these areas?
While there are housing affordability issues across the country, we are lucky to have plenty of houses available at reasonable cost in the Rangitikei electorate.
Our country is different than the rest of the world in that we rely heavily on rural New Zealand for our incomes, with agriculture being the biggest show in town. As a result we need those people living in our small towns, as they are the service centres of the agricultural hinterland. It is important that we come together and make our electorate an appealing place to work and live for generations now, and in the future.
One last thing: Christmas is around the corner and we need to be more aware than ever of those around us.