Ran­gi­tata-based Labour list MP Jo Lux­ton made pitches for re­gional de­vel­op­ment and bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion, while ac­knowl­edg­ing her road to pol­i­tics.

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

Tena Koutou Te Whare. Mr Speaker, tena koe. First may I of­fer my con­grat­u­la­tions to you on your elec­tion. To the Prime Min­is­ter, tena koe. I of­fer you my con­grat­u­la­tions and my thanks. It is un­der your strong lead­er­ship that we have found our­selves form­ing a strong, proac­tive and durable Gov­ern­ment. I also want to thank you for your per­sonal en­cour­age­ment, I re­mem­ber a con­ver­sa­tion we had when you vis­ited Ti­maru, close to a year ago now, the kind words of en­cour­age­ment you gave me, re­ally made me be­lieve in my­self and that I had some­thing to of­fer and knowl­edge to share and now here I am to­day.

I’d also like to of­fer my con­grat­u­la­tions to the new min­is­ters.

It is with im­mense pride and hon­our that I stand here in this house with all of you. What a priv­i­lege we have been given by the peo­ple of New Zealand to rep­re­sent them and their hopes and dreams for the fu­ture. We must re­mem­ber, we are not here for our own per­sonal grat­i­fi­ca­tion but to serve the peo­ple of our na­tion who have put their faith in us to make New Zealand a bet­ter place.

I am the el­dest of three girls, born to Jim and Mar­garet Thomp­son in Ro­torua. Dad was a builder and mum was a stay at home par­ent. We shifted around a lot for Dad’s work and I had lived in four dif­fer­ent towns by the time I had turned 10: Ro­torua, Paeroa, Whakatane and Gis­borne.

My par­ents owned their own home, with the help of the state ad­vances scheme and were able to sur­vive on the one in­come. We weren’t rich by any means, but we had the se­cu­rity of our own home and al­ways had food on the ta­ble and won­der­ful gifts at birthdays and Christ­mas. I hope to make them nor­mal, achiev­able ex­pec­ta­tions dur­ing my time in this house.

I shifted to the South Is­land in 1996 and live in the Ran­gi­tata elec­torate in a town­ship called Hinds, where I own and up un­til re­cently op­er­ated a small busi­ness, an early child­hood cen­tre. I es­tab­lished the busi­ness in 2008 and we have been grow­ing from strength to strength even ex­tend­ing the premises to keep up with de­mand. I em­ploy nine amaz­ing staff, and I am so very proud to also be a liv­ing wage em­ployer.

Own­ing a busi­ness, par­tic­u­larly in a ru­ral area, does not come with­out its chal­lenges and it hasn’t al­ways been easy, how­ever one of my great­est com­mit­ments has been to be a liv­ing wage em­ployer. It is pos­si­ble to be a suc­cess­ful small busi­ness and pay an in­creased min­i­mum wage and even a liv­ing wage. A liv­ing wage al­lows fam­i­lies to sup­port them­selves bet­ter, to pay the bills, to put food on the ta­ble for their chil­dren and to live with some dig­nity. I will al­ways sup­port that prin­ci­ple – for all of those rea­sons.

To­gether, small busi­nesses em­ploy the great­est num­ber of New Zealan­ders and their pres­ence in the re­gions is the dif­fer­ence be­tween sur­vival and poverty for many. My ex­pe­ri­ence al­lows me to con­trib­ute with some first-hand knowl­edge to any dis­cus­sions about eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in the prov­inces.

I look for­ward to be­ing able to con­trib­ute to this Par­lia­ment as a liv­ing wage em­ployer and small busi­ness owner to en­sure that we con­stantly recog­nise and ac­knowl­edge the role small busi­nesses play in the eco­nomic land­scape of New Zealand.

The Ran­gi­tata elec­torate is made up of four main towns: Ti­maru, Te­muka, Ash­bur­ton, Methven; and sev­eral smaller town­ships, Hinds be­ing one of them. It is a beau­ti­ful place to live, with hunt­ing, fish­ing, ski­ing, lakes and the gor­geous Caro­line Bay right at our doorstep. It is the agri­cul­tural hub of the South Is­land, if not New Zealand. But be­fore I talk about that I want to ac­knowl­edge the for­mer Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, Jo Good­hew, for all the work she did for the elec­torate. I also wish to ac­knowl­edge Ran­gi­tata’s newly elected Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Andrew Fal­loon: thank you for be­ing so good na­tured along the cam­paign trail. I en­joyed our ban­ter at the can­di­date meet­ings, where we joked about which one of us was likely to be slaugh­tered that night and the co­pi­ous amounts of wa­ter we drank. I wish you well.

Ran­gi­tata faces sev­eral chal­lenges, some very dif­fer­ent to other parts of the coun­try, some not so dif­fer­ent. One of the big chal­lenges is the dif­fi­culty find­ing peo­ple to fill the nu­mer­ous jobs avail­able there. We rely heav­ily on mi­grant staff and that is why I am so sup­port­ive of this Gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy of de­vel­op­ing a re­gional skills short­age lists. A na­tional blan­ket list does not work for our re­gion. Our needs are dif­fer­ent to those in Auck­land and other cities and I com­mend this Gov­ern­ment for recog­nis­ing this and be­ing proac­tive in its ap­proach to this is­sue. Bring­ing peo­ple into Ran­gi­tata and pay­ing them de­cent wages will help us all grow eco­nom­i­cally, of­fer the goods and ser­vices peo­ple re­quire in pro­vin­cial New Zealand, and de­velop co­he­sive and car­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

We need the skills to keep our strong econ­omy mov­ing along but it is im­por­tant that we look to en­cour­age our young peo­ple to train and un­der­take the jobs avail­able in the re­gions. It is time to ac­tively pro­mote the re­gions and in­vest in them prop­erly in or­der to make them thrive and be places that peo­ple want to move to and set­tle down with their fam­i­lies. In­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture is needed: road­ing and bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity is vi­tal for our busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties to grow.

Th­ese is­sues are not just cam­paign is­sues but liv­ing breath­ing ev­ery­day is­sues.

Be­com­ing an MP is not a path­way I in­ten­tion­ally headed down but is a re­sult of the many di­rec­tions, twists and turns that my life has taken.

I am ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about ed­u­ca­tion and in par­tic­u­lar early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion. As a cen­tre owner I have seen first-hand the is­sues we are faced with. We need to fo­cus more on qual­ity rather than quan­tity for our youngest learn­ers. This is largely my mo­ti­va­tion for putting my­self for­ward as a can­di­date, but it is not solely about that, I want to see our tamariki thrive. I want to see child poverty elim­i­nated in my time here; I want every child who comes through my preschool door or any other preschool or school, to grow up with the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as the child next to them, re­gard­less of the type of job their par­ents do or where they live.

Too many of our young peo­ple are liv­ing in de­spair, suf­fer­ing de­pres­sion or other men­tal health is­sues un­able to ever see a pos­i­tive fu­ture for them­selves. This has to change. Our beau­ti­ful young peo­ple need to know that they can look to us to be a Gov­ern­ment that shows kind­ness, com­pas­sion, em­pa­thy and sup­port.

I want our young peo­ple to grow up with a sense of hope, to know that they can be that shin­ing light and stand up and be what­ever they dream that they can be. We will give them the op­por­tu­nity to have a world class ed­u­ca­tion that will set them in good stead for what­ever di­rec­tion they may take in life.

Ed­u­ca­tion has en­abled me to get to where I am to­day. It needs to be free and ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one. It is the one thing which over­comes every dis­ad­van­tage with which a child might be­gin life. It could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween liv­ing a de­cent life and con­tribut­ing to so­ci­ety in a pos­i­tive way or end­ing up in our over­crowded pris­ons. Whether it is first, sec­ond or third chance ed­u­ca­tion, it re­mains the most trans­for­ma­tive in­flu­ence in our lives. And that trans­for­ma­tion ben­e­fits ev­ery­body, not just the well-ed­u­cated in­di­vid­ual. To that ex­tent ed­u­ca­tion at any level is a pub­lic good.

I want to take the op­por­tu­nity to thank some peo­ple who have been an in­te­gral part of my jour­ney to Par­lia­ment. To my fan­tas­tic cam­paign team, Glen Cameron, Phil King, Marie MacAnulty, Carol Brown, Ja­nine Watkins, Jon Everist, John Gard­ner and Matt Lux­ton and to all our awesome vol­un­teers, I owe you a huge amount of grat­i­tude.

I want to ac­knowl­edge the Christchurch Labour team and the Hon­ourable Me­gan Woods, Poto Wil­liams and Hon­ourable Ruth Dyson for all your won­der­ful sup­port and to the Hon­ourable Damien O’Con­nor, who of­fered me his words of wis­dom and warm ad­vice, in par­tic­u­lar the ad­vice he gave me when I phoned one day to talk about my ner­vous­ness about ad­dress­ing a par­tic­u­lar group at a can­di­date meet­ing, his ad­vice ‘‘harden up’’ so I thank you for that, it is ad­vice I will al­ways re­mem­ber.

To my dad, Jim, whose po­lit­i­cal views are the com­plete op­po­site of my own, our phone con­ver­sa­tions over the past year have al­lowed me to work on my de­bat­ing skills so I thank you for that, thank you for your love, sup­port and en­cour­age­ment, I love you dearly.

My sis­ters, Melissa and Teresa, thank you for your sup­port. To my hus­band and fam­ily who’ve put up with my ab­sences over the cam­paign and now you do it all over again, I thank you. To our chil­dren Levi, Kelsey, Matt, Ol­lie and Cam, I do this for you and for your chil­dren in the fu­ture – I want to leave this place know­ing that I have given it my all and that New Zealand is a bet­ter place for it. My hus­band Matt – you are my rock, my great­est sup­port, you have been there for the highs, the lows, the tears and grumpy moods and yes there’s been a few of those! You en­cour­age me when I need it and push me to be­lieve I can do it. I know this hasn’t been easy for you but I am so thank­ful to you, I love you.

To my step dad Tony – I adore you and thank you for all your sup­port.

I es­pe­cially want to ac­knowl­edge mum, Mar­garet, who due to health can’t be here to­day but I know she is watch­ing – I ded­i­cate my maiden speech to you! I am who I am to­day be­cause of you, I have watched the bat­tles you have so bravely fought over the years and con­tinue to fight now, you are the strong­est, bravest most de­ter­mined per­son I know. No reira, tena koe taku whaea aroha, I hope I make you proud.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

New Labour list MP Jo Lux­ton presents her maiden speech at Par­lia­ment.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

New Ran­gi­tata MP Andrew Fal­loon in Par­lia­ment.

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