It has been a busy fortnight in the electorate with Parliament in recess. I have attended the Hampstead 125th anniversary reunion, attended ANZAC Day services in Ashburton, Winchester and Temuka and hosted Social Development Minister Hon Paula Bennett and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges in the electorate.
During Hon Paula Bennett’s quick visit, she managed to meet with volunteer and NGO groups at both Ashburton and Timaru’s Community House. During the visits to Community Link in both towns there was an opportunity to acknowledge the huge effort these organisations put in after the February 22 earthquake. From the time I spent at Welfare Centres in both towns, I know that staff and volunteers worked exceptionally long hours so that those who left Christchurch could be warmly welcomed and assisted during those difficult couple of weeks.
Rural Broadband Initiative underway
The Government has completed negotiations for our Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), which will deliver vastly improved broadband speeds and mobile phone services to rural New Zealand.
About half of rural homes cope with dial-up, and just 20 per cent have broadband. The Government’s initiative, (in partnership with Telecom and Vodafone), will see that jump to 86 per cent. It will also deliver ultra-fast broadband to 95 per cent of rural schools, meaning 97 per cent of all New Zealand schools will have access to speeds of at least 100 Mbps.
The new rural network will be achieved through the extension of Telecom’s existing fibre network and Vodafone building new cell phone towers and upgrading technology on existing infrastructure.
Competitors will be able to access rural broadband infrastructure and offer competitive prices to rural broadband customers.
National is working hard to build a better-connected, digitally-enabled, productive and growing economy and the Rural Broadband Initiative will ensure our rural communities do not miss out on the promise of the digital age.
More information: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/rural-broadband-initiative-underway
Putting victims at the centre of the justice system
The Government has announced reforms to give extra support to victims of crime. This is the result of public consultation since December 2009 on the document “A Focus on Victims of Crime: A Review of Victims’ Rights”.
A Victims Centre will be established within the Ministry of Justice to oversee victims’ services. The Centre will develop a new Victims Code to help victims understand their rights, the services available to them, and the complaints process.
Other changes include reforming Victim Impact Statements, changing the Victim Notification System, introducing new accountability requirements and complaints processes, and a wider use of restorative justice. A Victims of Crime Reform Bill will be introduced by mid-2011.
Rise up for Christchurch
Last week came the announcement of a telethon to support the Government’s Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, the official, global fundraiser for the recovery effort for Christchurch and the Canterbury region.
Rise Up Christchurch – Te Kotahitanga will be a 12-hour event held on 22nd May – three months after the February 22 earthquake. All funds raised will go to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.
The telethon will be broadcast from Christchurch CBS Arena and centres from around New Zealand by Maori Television.
For more information on the telethon please see: http://www.riseup.org.nz/
• Friday 13 May: Guest Speaker at Rural Woman meeting.
• Friday 13 May: Opening of the Acton Irrigation Scheme in Rakaia.
• Saturday 14 May: On night shift with Timaru police.