Wednesday, 13 November 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Coromandel MP hosting East Coast Bays colleague in Whitianga last week

National Party MP for the Coromandel, Scott Simpson, and fellow National Part MP, Erica Stanford of East Coast Bays (a North Shore, Auckland electorate), visited Whitianga on Friday last week.

As opposition associate spokesperson for the environment, Mrs Stanford works closely with Mr Simpson, the opposition spokesperson for the environment and climate change. Mrs Stanford has specific opposition responsibility for urban water quality.

On Friday morning Mr Simpson and Mrs Stanford met with the trustees of local charity, Kauri 2000, after which they’ve enjoyed lunch with several members of the Mercury Bay business community. In the afternoon, they addressed a large audience of retirees and semi-retirees at the Mercury Bay Boating Club.

At the conclusion of their formal commitments for the day, the two MPs met with The Informer and discussed a wide variety of issues. Mrs Stanford said right at the outset how impressed she was with Kauri 2000. “It’s almost unbelievable to think that a small community group can do so much for the conservation of kauri trees,” she said.

Mr Simpson referred to the questions they received from the audience at the Boating Club. “Interestingly enough people didn’t really ant to talk to about climate change,” he said. “But they’re clearly concerned about waste. What can be done to limit household rubbish and what’s happening to everything that’s being dumped in landfill.

“People were also really keen to hear from us on the abortion legislation currently working its way through Parliament.”

Mr Simpson said converting waste to energy is a National Party policy and they will continue to explore workable options. “It’s an issue of critical mass,” he said. “Like everywhere else in the world, we produce too much waste in New Zealand, but we may well not produce enough to operate one or more plants converting waste into energy efficiently. At the end of the day we’re looking for a solution that will benefit the environment, not cause more harm to it.”

Both Mr Simpson and Mrs Stanford voted in favour of the new abortion bill at its first reading a few weeks ago. The bill is treated as a conscience issue among MPs.

Mrs Stanford said what people need to understand is that the bill is not about allowing or disallowing women to have an abortion in New Zealand, it is about removing the current abortion legislation from the Crimes Act and putting more streamlined abortion processes in place. “The new bill isn’t really a moral issue,” he said. “I voted for the bill to go the select committee stage in Parliament as I’m concerned that the processes a woman has to follow at the moment to obtain an abortion isn’t good for her overall wellbeing. People need to remember the decision as to whether to get an abortion or not, is the most difficult decision a woman will ever make in her life.”

When asked what the National Party’s first priority will be with regard to the environment if they get back into power, Mr Simpson said it would be to pass the Zero Carbon Bill into legislation. The bill provides for the establishment of a framework which New Zealand can use to develop clear and stable climate change policies in accord with the Paris Agreement.  “We provided bipartisan support to get the bill to the select committee stage,” Mr Simpson said. “We have differing views from the current government on certain aspects of the bill, but are optimistic that common ground can be found.”

Mrs Stanford is married and has two children, aged 11 and seven. “The prime minister isn’t the only MP with a young child,” she said. “There are several dads in Parliament with young children as well. I have the full support of my husband and things are working well for us. It’s most certainly possibly be to be a younger woman and hold public office. I love representing my electorate as an MP. It’s a massive privilege.”

Pictured: Coromandel MP, Scott Simpson, and East Coast Bays MP, Erica Stanford, at the new playground on The Esplanade in Whitianga on Friday afternoon last week.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.