THE parliamentary year got off to an interesting start with a dubious poll, and a Coalition whose disorganisation was again evident at the very first select committee when finance and expenditure collapsed for lack of a Government quorum despite a five hour agenda in front of it.

The Prime Minister's statement said little and Simon Bridges' reply was very good. Winston Peters thrived on National's interjections, which gave him a break from trying to make a sensible speech of his own, especially one that was supposed to last for 20 minutes.

I must say it felt like little had changed as a result of our six weeks off.

Ian McKelvie: Ratana celebrations a great day
Ian McKelvie: Betrayal was attempt to undermine party leadership


We did however have some interesting and challenging matters to deal with as the year progressed - both at home and abroad.

The most immediate was the very large and serious Nelson fires, which clearly demonstrated what a threat fire is to us all, especially when we saw an early summer that supported extraordinary growth, followed by a serious hot dry spell.

The new Fire and Emergency team have done a great job in very difficult conditions and it shows much was learned from the Port Hills' Fires of two years ago.

It also shows us we are at risk of this happening more often as climatic extremes become more prevalent.

The two other big challenges for New Zealand are abroad with the Brexit debacle and its effects on us a comparative unknown. It certainly has the potential to pose serious issues for our trade in Britain and Europe if the cards fall the wrong way.

Then of course there is our relationship with China, our biggest trading partner and very good friend to us over the past 15 or so years.

It does appear as though the Government has managed to test that relationship somewhat, and it needs to move quickly to sort it out. We are a country more dependent on trade than almost any other and it is vital that our Prime Minister, Trade Minister and Foreign Minister are working constantly on our relationships with all of our trading partners. I am not confident that is happening right now.

More recently in the House my Stock Rustling Bill reappeared as a supplementary order paper to a Crimes Amendment Bill – and in a much stronger and more effective state than I was able to introduce it as a Private Member's Bill.


[The bill was passed into law on Tuesday, November 5. From now on, the theft of livestock, or other animals, carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment, and any unlawful entry to land used for agriculture purpose, where someone intends stealing livestock, could result in up to 10 years' jail time.]

I need to thank Minister Little and the Primary Production Select Committee for that.

The Tax Working Group's review is complete and has been announced and whilst it was probably meant to be an attack on the filthy rich, it looks much more like an attack on hard working middle income New Zealanders who have saved for their retirement, perhaps own a rental property which they will sell to retire on and find the Government may pinch the best part of it.

We will be working to highlight the dangers of the outcomes of this review and await the result of the Government's consideration of it with much interest.

Export prices are good at present and as a result of this farming across the board is doing well.

Next week the annual Fieldays are being held at Manfeild in Feilding from Thursday, March 14 to Saturday, March 16 and I would encourage you to visit.

There's certainly plenty to see and do, and the Fieldays show what's great about living, working and playing in rural and provincial New Zealand.

Ian McKelvie is the MP for Rangitikei