Latest News

May Newsletter 2023

June 07, 2023 Share

As the election looms I am ramping up the workload to get the message about National, and our policies, out to the electorate. We’ve already released policies on farming, nursing and mental health, and in recent weeks our FamilyBoost childcare tax rebates and our Housing Growth Plan, have been well received. National wants to restore fiscal discipline, end Labour’s wasteful spending and deliver clear reporting of public finances. 



Successful National Party Southern Regional Conference

Great to be involved in the recent National Party Southern Regional conference in Dunedin. It was excellent to hear from Party President Sylvia Wood and Party Leader Chris Luxon, and to reconnect with the hard-working members who are National’s backbone. 



Budget blowout shows Labour’s time is up

Budget 2023 shows why New Zealand needs a change of direction and a change of Government this year. While Finance Minister Grant Robertson promised a bread-and-butter Budget, he delivered a spending spree creating a massive increase in deficits and debt climbing for years to come. National knows we need to fix the economy to lift incomes and afford the public services Kiwis deserve – Labour’s only plan is to spend.


I was honoured attend a tree planting at Queens Park recently to mark the King’s coronation.


Labour’s flagship Early Childhood policy falls flat

New Zealand’s early childhood education sector has rejected Labour’s flagship Budget 2023 policy, saying it is ‘completely unworkable’ and will force them to hike their fees or close. As National’s Early Childhood spokesperson, I believe Labour’s policy will penalize ECH centres, while not benefitting families. National’s plan is to ensure that childcare is more affordable. Our FamilyBoost childcare rebate will give 130,000 low and middle-income families up to $75 more in their after-tax pay each week. Check it out here:


I was delighted to talk to students from Halfmoon Bay School, who recently visited Parliament as part of a Rural and Remote Kids Group, which also included Tapora, Ngamatapouri, Mulberry Grove, and Makuri Schools. 


Ram raids up 77 percent since Hipkins became PM

Shocking figures - with ram raids up by 77 percent since Chris Hipkins took over as Prime Minister and tried to proclaim that his Government was getting on top of the problem. Violent crime is up 33 percent, knife crime is up 20 percent, and gang membership has increased by 66 per cent. Labour’s soft-on-crime approach is devastating to New Zealand. A National Government would crack down on serious repeat youth offenders like ram-raiders to turn their lives around and to protect the public. Here are the details of our plans to combat youth offending:



National’s Maori Development and Associate Housing spokesperson Tama Potaka had an informative visit to Invercargill this month, meeting with Southern Institute of Technology Nga Puna Wai Construction programme building students, along with speaking with a range of community groups about the South’s social housing needs.


Going for Housing Growth Plan

National will fix NZ’s housing crisis by unlocking land for housing, build infrastructure and sharing the benefits of growth with communities. Labour has failed on housing. Rents are up $160 per week since 2017, the social housing waitlist has increased dramatically, 3500 families live in motels, and over 400 in cars. National's Going for Housing Growth Plan will unlock land for housing, reduce red tape and offer councils’ housing performance incentives. Look here for more information:


I was very sad to learn of the possible closure of Southland’s iconic department store H & J Smiths. My thoughts are with staff and management as they work through this difficult process, and with loyal customers who are also coming to terms with the announcement.



In the news:


Penny to the Minister for ECE


Labour needs to fix ECE Budget botch-up


Cost of Living crisis affects businesses


My Diary

5 June – King’s Birthday


7 June – Opening speech – Purebred Jersey Breed Conference Invercargill


14 June - Auckland/Hamilton visit


20-23 June - Parliament Sitting


27-29 June - Parliament Sitting


30 June - Night of the Arts


As always, I’m here to help. Please contact me at my Invercargill office on Ph- 03 218 5060, or email me at: [email protected] 


Thank you for your support

Penny Simmonds

No celebration on Te Pūkenga's third birthday

April 04, 2023 Share

There is little to celebrate on Te Pūkenga’s third birthday today as the shambolic entity still doesn’t have an operating model and is hurting New Zealand’s vocational sector, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says. 

“After three years, it is shameful that Te Pūkenga still doesn’t have an operating model and remains completely directionless.

“Te Pūkenga has been a disaster from day one and it’s no surprise that the Auditor General has said that its lack of an operating model could ‘affect public trust and confidence in the organisation.’ 

“All of this is taking a significant toll on Te Pūkenga, with staff morale at an all-time low, student enrolments plummeting by ten per cent, and the organisation looking down the barrel of a $63 million deficit.

“When I raised these concerns with the Education Minister in Parliament last week, Jan Tinetti said she expected Te Pūkenga’s operating model would just ‘evolve over time, once the organisation matures.’

“This is a ridiculous proposition. Since it was established on 1 April 2020, Te Pūkenga’s lack of an operating model has only dogged its progress.

“In a report looking at the progress of vocational education reforms, the Auditor General’s office said that ‘by now we expected Te Pūkenga to be clear on the outcomes it was looking to achieve and by when.’ 

“This lack of accountability is an insult to staff, students and taxpayers who’ve already spent $200 million funding a Crown entity that has only made New Zealand’s vocational sector worse.

“On its third birthday, it couldn’t be clearer that the centralised Te Pūkenga polytechnic mega-merger is a failure. A National Government would stop the centralisation of the polytechnic sector and focus on educational outcomes for our students.”

March Newsletter 2023

April 03, 2023 Share

Now that Parliament is back in full swing, we’re focussed on holding the Government to account over its wasteful spending and excessive use of consultants. 

Meanwhile, National has released a range of strong policies around education, childcare and water. These practical policies will really benefit people in places like Southland and are what’s needed to get our country back on track.

My office has also been busy with lots of constituent enquiries and I’ve had the pleasure of attending some great local events, meeting lots of you along the way.  


This year’s Surf to City event attracted over 3000 participants. I was proud to complete the 3Km section with my daughter Briony. Congratulations to everyone who gave it a go.


Crime continues in the South

It’s shocking that robberies are continuing to happen in our city, including a nasty ram-raid at the Pomona St Discounter last week. While Labour sits on its hands, National would go hard on crime. Our Law and Order policy includes a youth military academy and extended prison stays.


A fabulous turnout at the Southland A & P Association show recently, which made for great event where the best of town and country got together


Teaching the Basics Brilliantly

Christopher Luxon unveiled National’s plan to reverse the damage done to New Zealand's schooling academic achievement. 'Teaching the Basics Brilliantly' will ensure every child has the skills they need in reading, writing, maths and science, to set them up for further success.
National will require all primary and intermediate schools to teach an hour of reading, an hour of writing and an hour of maths every day. 


FamilyBoost will support families

I was in Auckland recently when National leader Christopher Luxon announced our new FamilyBoost childcare tax rebate, to support young families dealing with Labour’s cost-of-living crisis. This rebate will target 130,000 lower and middle-income families with up to $75 more in their weekly after-tax pay - that’s $3,900 every year, depending on income.


I’m astounded at the food prices that we’re being forced to pay and I despair for young families and the elderly who tell me they’re really struggling 


Food prices eating into wages

Record food prices are hurting Southlanders, as the cost-of-living crisis becomes entrenched under Labour. Statistics New Zealand data shows that food prices have risen by 12 per cent in the past 12 months, with fruit and vegetables up 23 per cent. Food prices have increased more in the past three years than in the entire nine years of the previous National Government.


International Women’s Day was a great opportunity to acknowledge the success of women. I feel honoured to be in Parliament promoting the voice of Southern women and representing the Invercargill electorate.


Three Waters has to go

National will scrap Three Waters and Labour’s co-governed mega-entities. We will restore council ownership and control, set strict rules for water quality and investment in infrastructure and ensure water services are financially sustainable.


In the news:






My Diary:

March 28th-29th: Parliament Sitting 

March 30th: South Island Field Days Kirwee

April 1st: NZ Certified Builders Annual Apprentice Challenge

April 4th-6th: Parliament Sitting


As always, I’m here to help. Please contact me at my Invercargill office on Ph- 03 218 5060, or email me at: [email protected] 


Thank you for your support

Penny Simmonds



Te Pūkenga executive spend-up a low blow for staff

November 23, 2022 Share

Te Pūkenga’s latest moves to employ highly paid co-leaders while polytechnic teaching and support staff face the chop is offensive, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

“I’m astonished that in the wake of Te Pūkenga’s poor financial performance over the past three years, and at a time when the organisation is attempting to claw back on its over-spending, we’re seeing this largesse.

“Te Pūkenga is advertising for eight new co-leaders, each earning between $200,000 and $350,000 a year, while teaching and support staff at the mega polytechnic are on tenterhooks over future job losses.

“Acting chief executive Peter Winder last month announced a $63 million deficit. How can Te Pūkenga management justify this expenditure while at the same time taking the axe to vocational and trades education across the country?

“The extravagance of these new senior management co-leadership positions and their corresponding high salaries fly in the face of the dramatic cuts that everyday polytechnic staff are expected to make, with $10 million in savings from work-based learning and $25 million across former polytechnics being enforced.

“Employing highly paid co-leadership executives will do nothing for the already low staff morale and reflects a misguided view that these senior management positions are more important than teaching staff.

“Surely the Education Minister must be concerned about this reckless spending when he has recently asked Te Pūkenga to be more financially responsible.

“This is yet another example of the Labour Government’s fixation with centralisation, co-leadership and co-governance ideology, that’s strangling the regions and building a head office bureaucracy that is big in costs and little in value.

“It will do nothing to improve the serious skills shortage being felt around New Zealand, nor will it provide taxpayers with the reassurance that the Government’s polytechnic mega-merger is back on track.”


Media contact: Matt Young, 021 526 090

SIT job losses as Te Pukenga moves to right deficit

October 24, 2022 Share

Job losses are on the cards at SIT, as the Government comes clean on how it proposes to balance the books of its embattled industry training mega-merger Te Pukenga, Invercargill MP and National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

“Te Pukenga, which now runs the country’s polytechnics, is currently forecasting a $63m deficit for 2022 and on Friday afternoon its acting Chief Executive Peter Winder announced it wanted to make cuts of $25m at polytechnics and $10m across work-based learning, to make savings.

“In the Southern region that will effectively mean $2million in cuts at SIT and about $2.7million at Otago Polytechnic.

“I already know that staff cuts will be the most likely option here, with very little left in the system at SIT, after cost reductions and a freeze on employment was ordered by Te Pukenga earlier this year.

“These cuts will have a huge impact on our region and its employers, and are a slap in the face to the local staff who’ve maintained quality teaching, battled Covid and keep going in the face of uncertainty over the past three years of Te Pukenga restructuring.

“I’m absolutely disgusted at the Government’s mishandling of this mega-merger. I’m sad for the Southland staff who will now lose their jobs and I’m devastated at what Chris Hipkins has done to SIT and trades training in this province.

“The Government spent $200 million setting up Te Pukenga - where have the millions gone – and why, after three years of denial, is it only now being confirmed that Te Pukenga is all about increased head office bureaucracy and polytechnic jobs cuts in the places like Southland.

“Shockingly only “prudent” savings have been tagged at this time for Te Pukenga’s head office – with absolutely no real changes announced for the inefficient polytechnic’s who triggered this ill-fated mega-merger in the first place.

“At a time when Southland has critical labour shortages, our major vocational training institute is being stripped away by a Labour Government intent on pushing through its ideological changes, despite the immense and damaging effects it will have.”

Southland Groundswell protest reflects strength of farmer feeling

October 20, 2022 Share

Southland farmers tell me that they feel like they’re under siege and the strength of today’s Groundswell protest reflects their genuine concern about the Government’s agricultural emissions proposals, Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

“The massive turn out at today’s Groundswell event, where farmers rallied to show their dismay at the action’s of this Government, shows the strength of feeling in the South.

“The Government’s emissions pricing scheme is another kick in the guts for farmers, which threatens the future of the rural sector in the South.

“I’m deeply concerned at the implications of the Government’s proposals, which will effectively price farming off the market for a large number of people within the sector and risk leaving our rural communities in despair.

“This province, and indeed this country, needs the rural sector. We’ve said it time and again how crucial farming is to our economy - that’s why I’m dismayed at the way the government constantly wants to nail the sector.

“The Government’s emissions proposal will see up to 20 per cent of the capacity of sheep and beef farming lost by 2030 – while forcing emissions to increase offshore, as production and jobs move overseas.

“It’s impractical and it’s unfair and farmers, rural communities and New Zealand cannot afford a blow like this.

“National supports agriculture paying its way, but believes the Government’s proposed costs are unacceptable especially when, with more care, there will be a better way to reduce emissions without so much damage.”

Emissions Plan another Kick in the Guts for Farmers

October 12, 2022 Share

Another kick in the guts for farmers, which threatens the future of farming in the South – that’s how Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds has described the Government’s farm emissions plan.

“I’m deeply concerned at the implications of the Government’s proposals, which will effectively price farming off the market for a large number of people within the sector and risk leaving our rural communities in despair.

“Yes, there has to be change, but let’s not forget that our farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world and nowhere else in the world is imposing a carbon tax on their agricultural sector.

“These proposals, will see one-fifth of our sheep and beef farmers gone by 2030, along with a five percent reduction in the dairy sector, which would send production and jobs offshore to less efficient farms, therefore raising global emissions. It’s a lose-lose situation which undermines everything that our farmers are already doing to lower their emissions.

“The only way forward is an industry-led solution based on available science and technology, not regulations imposed by a Government and its bureaucrats who think they can run the rural sector from their offices in Wellington. 

“National supports New Zealand's emissions targets, including reaching carbon net zero by 2050. We acknowledge that New Zealand needs to cut its overall carbon emissions and reduce agriculture

SDHB - 24 hour ED wait times appalling, but inevitable

August 19, 2022 Share

Some patients in the South are waiting more than 24 hours to access emergency department care, but Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says she’s not surprised considering the state of local health services.         

“New data shows that in April of this year, 13 people waited more than 24 hours to be seen in an emergency department operated by the previous Southern District Health Board – the third highest rate in the country.

“This is an appalling delay for people who are unwell, but it’s not surprising considering the poor state of health services in this province.

“GP’s aren’t taking on new patients, creating a large unenrolled population, which means people are sicker when they get to hospital and take extra time to be seen.

“Urgent doctor care is also limited in Invercargill and expensive, so people end up at the city’s ED, the service is over-run and wait times explode.

“Eighteen months ago emergency department pressures were highlighted, along with GP and hospital staff shortages, and a lack of beds and operating theatre space at our hospital, but nothing was done.

“My concerns at the time were validated by Southland GP’s, specialists and patients, and then confirmed by a Clinical Needs Analysis, from consultants Sapere Research Group in June, stating that health services in Southland were ‘in crisis mode’ and needed urgent action.

“Despite alarm bells ringing loudly, the Health Minister has consistently ignored local concerns, instead promising his $486 million health restructure plan would make things right - so far it hasn’t.

“The lack of improvements is frustrating and I am genuinely worried about local health services, with these appalling ED wait times just the tip of the iceberg. 

"I wonder how serious things will have to get before the Government is forced to act.”

Te Pūkenga’s leadership plan misses the mark

August 17, 2022 Share

Te Pūkenga’s leadership consultation plan is big on spin but short on specifics, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

“Yesterday’s long-awaited document was a complete let-down. Te Pūkenga’s management had an opportunity to show real leadership and provide specific details on how the mega-merger was actually going to operate.

“Instead, we have a document that is thin on detail, riddled with idealistic language and provides none of the specifics that staff, learners, industry and local communities have been calling for.

“Most details on reshaping the sector - including the futures of staff and specific training programmes - have been kicked to touch until next year. This is simply not good enough.

“Staff job concerns may be alleviated for the next four months with guarantees of positions on 1 January 2023, but there’s no detail on staff restructuring beyond that date.  

“It is insulting for Te Pūkenga’s 13,000 staff to receive this ambiguous document which will determine their futures, while being offered just a three-week window to make their views known.

“It’s also ironic that Te Pūkenga’s acting Chief Executive Peter Winder has highlighted this process as being ‘a key step’ in the mega-merger’s restructure, but staff have given just three weeks to consider and submit on an ambiguous document.

“Once again, Te Pūkenga has failed to deliver. Management has produced a lightweight consultation document that is destined to achieve only limited results, leaving staff and learners in limbo.”

Figures show Southern Measles campaign a big disappointment

August 15, 2022 Share

The Government’s $20 measles vaccination catch-up programme has been a big disappointment in the South, Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

 “Completed last month, just 1292 people in the Southern District Health Board region were vaccinated as part of the programme, in the two years between July 2020 and 30 June 2022.

 “That equates to about 12 people a week in the Southern area – not a great success rate when the Health Minster has spent a whopping $20 million on the campaign. 

 “Across the country just 23,500 were vaccinated, despite the Government saying its multi-million programme would reach 300,000 people.

 “To me this is another major fail from Andrew Little and a serious waste of taxpayer’s money, which could have been spent more productively on so many other areas in our health system.

 “This program was extremely badly handled, with promotional material taking three months to arrive and the Government forced to destroy $8 million worth of expired measles vaccine due to the poor uptake.

 “The Health Minister continues to fail to deliver for Southlanders. He has failed to deliver a health workforce, failed people who’ve been forced to wait longer for surgery, failed our elderly in rest homes and now he has failed to deliver a measles vaccine programme, costing taxpayers $20 milion.

 “This program was extremely badly handled, with promotional material taking three months to arrive and the Government forced to destroy $8 million worth of expired measles vaccine due to the poor uptake.

 “Minister Little continues to fail to deliver for Southlanders. He has failed to deliver a health workforce, failed people who’ve been forced to wait longer for surgery, failed our elderly in rest homes and now he has failed to deliver a measles vaccine programme, costing taxpayers $20 million.”