Southern Lens election special - Brian Mowat-Gainsford, Sustainable New Zealand
As part of our Southern Lens election special we've invited the candidates for the Waitaki electorate to answer questions on some key local issues for Wanaka and Cromwell in less than 1000 words. This is from Brian Mowat-Gainsford of Sustainable New Zealand.
What key issues do Wanaka and Cromwell face and what's your action to remedy them?
The issues that need to be carefully managed and addressed are transportation in and around the Queenstown area. This needs to be sustainable, provide the least environmental impact and there needs to be infrastructure in place to meet the community's needs. We believe looking at new forms of transportation is needed to provide increased economic benefits to Queenstown, Cromwell and Wanaka with both the tourism benefits and providing easier access for goods to the rural communities. The impact of COVID 19 has given us an opportunity to stop and consider other options to link our major cities to rural communities which need to be there for our future generations.
This district has seen babies born on the side of the road en route to birth units. What's to be done to improve maternity services for parents and babies?
We are highly disappointed in all government decisions to withdraw some of the maternity services in all small towns in our region not to mention Wanaka and Cromwell. People are important and having health services to provide the best outcomes in relation to health is important. It starts with our maternity services and to see this has been an area of neglect is something I would like to address and advocate for improving with the DHBs, lead maternity providers and the community. I also see health access in general is neglected in New Zealand at present and would like to advocate for improvements.
With New Zealand's borders closed, what can be done to help address seasonal worker shortages, and support the horticulture and viticulture industries?
The use of migrant workers in our horticulture and viticulture areas has become essential for this industry to continue; however, the bigger picture is not being addressed by the Government. Again, with COVID there is an opportunity to provide training to New Zealanders (especially with our unemployment rate rising) and address some of the barriers as to why we cannot obtain skilled workers within New Zealand. We need to speak to our people who work in the areas and look at ways of improving our workforce, and address some of the barriers in order to improve sustainability.
Housing affordability and availability - what's the answer?
Affordable housing in our region is not only an issue for our region but throughout New Zealand. This is a big issue and requires communication, liaison and cooperation from local councils, Government looking at housing needs for this community, and allowing New Zealanders to have opportunities for home ownership. I would advocate for a bigger picture approach to this and see this as a major issue. We know that outcomes for people improve when they have opportunities and home ownership is also included within this.
We love to swim, fish and get out on the boat - we need water to irrigate - how do we best protect and utilise our freshwater resources?
Water quality is another big issue affecting the whole country and this needs to be addressed. Our future generations depend on this and I believe we need to have a unity approach with all political parties. We need to work with all industries to improve water quality and this may require increased support from the government. Water is our future and it sustains all life and needs to be a priority. All individuals play a role in water quality and raising awareness within communities and educating people about some of the steps they can take, both big and small, and providing resources to assist with projects is a must. The bigger picture would be that every region looks at their own environmental issues with interest and passion with a plan of how they may be addressed to increase sustainability for every region. Both myself and my party are passionate about water quality and see this is a major issue for New Zealand.
How do we support local economies to diversify and innovate, and ensure they don't become 'dormitory' towns to Queenstown's development?
The issues regarding concerns about smaller towns like Cromwell becoming dormant due to the emphasis and focus being directed into bigger areas such as Queenstown is a concern. All townships are unique in our region and I hope with the vision on different forms of transport (such as looking at rail) this will allow townships to be acknowledged and supported to remain unique and valuable to our region.