South­ern MPs both in­spired to serve

The Southland Times - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW MAR­SHALL

The death of a close friend is what in­spired Clutha-South­land MP Hamish Walker to take up pol­i­tics, while it was the sale of New Zealand farm­land to for­eign in­vestors that in­spired NZ First MP Mark Pat­ter­son to do the same.

The pair both de­liv­ered their maiden speeches to Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day afternoon, when both men looked at their po­lit­i­cal roots, and high­lighted the chal­lenges they will face in the up­com­ing par­lia­men­tary term.

Walker said his friend’s death in­spired him ‘‘to make a dif­fer­ence’’ with his life.

Jonathan Keogh, 28, was killed by a re­peat drink-driver in 2008, with Walker say­ing he was for­tu­nate to have known him. ‘‘Jono’s le­gacy in­spires me to make a dif­fer­ence and his name will never be for­got­ten.’’

Im­mi­gra­tion was an is­sue of con­cern to his elec­torate, say­ing an im­mi­grant work­force was needed by ‘‘farm­ers in Gore, to hos­pi­tal­ity work­ers in Queen­stown’’.

‘‘The Gov­ern­ment must en­sure im­mi­gra­tion set­tings al­low busi­ness own­ers in Queen­stown and pri­mary pro­duc­ers across Otago and South­land to have the work­force to process goods.’’

At­ti­tude and hard work were the keys to suc­cess, and he said an early job as a com­mer­cial fish­er­man gave him his first real ex­pe­ri­ence of what hard work is all about.

Walker thanked those who helped him on his jour­ney to Par­lia­ment, and pledged ‘‘to DO things as a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment’’.

‘‘I hope that ev­ery­thing I do in this Par­lia­ment, and in my time as a mem­ber of this Par­lia­ment, is a trib­ute to those who have gone be­fore me, those who have helped me and to those whom I love, and who love me.’’

Pat­ter­son said his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer could be traced back to a meet­ing with farm­ers to ‘‘dis­cuss the dire state of the red meat sec­tor’’.

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously been a staunch Na­tional sup­porter, the sale of Sil­ver Fern Farms to the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment in­spired a switch of al­le­giance to NZ First.

‘‘Only NZ First was pre­pared to ques­tion the wis­dom of such a trans­ac­tion, hence why I stand here.’’

New Zealand own­er­ship of farm­land is some­thing he is an ‘‘unashamed pro­po­nent’’ of, and he high­lighted fu­ture po­ten­tial re­stric­tions to for­eign own­er­ship.

Wa­ter qual­ity was also on the agenda, with Pat­ter­son say­ing he will tell farm­ers what they need to hear.

‘‘I be­lieve there is but a tis­sue pa­per be­tween what farm­ers and ur­ban peo­ple as­pire in re­gard to wa­ter qual­ity.’’

Ur­ban New Zealan­ders didn’t re­alise the enor­mous ef­fort by farm­ers go­ing into lift­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal performance.

Pat­ter­son gave thanks to both sup­port­ers and op­po­nents, with par­tic­u­lar praise for wife and cam­paign man­ager, Jude, who he said ‘‘de­vel­oped a slightly un­healthy ob­ses­sion with stalk­ing Hamish Walker on Face­book’’.

Labour list MP Liz Craig will de­liver her maiden speech to­mor­row.

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