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Southland hunters shut out of the maimai

April 28, 2021 Share

Southland hunters who haven’t already got their firearms licenses now, will be shut out of the maimai this duck shooting season, Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

“The duck shooting season begins in Southland this Saturday (May 1), but not everyone will be able to shoot, with increased paperwork and complicated government regulations meaning police are taking months to process firearms licenses.

“It’s really disappointing for hunters to be side-lined because of these administrative delays.

“One constituent who contacted me said he was told by the Invercargill firearms office it would take his son up to six months to get his license – effectively shutting him out of the maimai this season.

“The duck shooting season in Southland only runs for ten weeks, to 11 July, so anyone who hasn’t already got their firearms license sorted by now, will effectively miss out.

“Southland duck hunters didn't have a season last year, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, now it looks like some will not be able to shoot again this year.

“I want hunters to do the right thing and adhere to the rules, but this system failure is disappointing and unacceptable.”

Mrs Simmonds said renewal of current firearms licenses in Southland was also taking four to six months, and she urged hunters to get in early to ensure that their licenses did not lapse, meaning they would no longer be able to store their guns on their property.

“Southland figures aren’t available, but across the country in December there was a backlog of 9700 firearms applications, and as of last week that number was still sitting around 9600,” Ms Simmonds says.

Elderly being discharged from hospital at midnight

April 19, 2021 Share

It’s unacceptable elderly people in the South are being discharged from hospital in the middle of the night, Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

“National‘s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti has revealed that District Health Boards across the country have been discharging patients over the age of 80, between 1am and 8am – and I am shocked to learn the Southern DHB was one of the main culprits.

“The Southern DHB had the eighth highest discharge rate amongst the country’s 20 DHBs – and in the month of January alone discharged 11 people aged over 80, in the early hours of the morning.

“While there may be some people who are self-discharging to other facilities, there is nothing safe about discharging people over 80 in the very early morning.

“Transitions of care between the hospital and the community are often complex, but especially so for our elderly where we know confusion can be increased at night, especially if social networks aren’t active and they’re in an unfamiliar environment.

“At this time support services are virtually inaccessible and pharmacies are closed.

“There isn’t any good reason to be discharging a person over 80 from hospital in the early morning.

“The Government needs to urgently explain the circumstances around these figures and reassure our elderly community that they won’t be left out in the cold in the middle of the night to free up a bed for someone else.”

 

Table 10730 (2021). Breakdown of patients aged 80 years and older whose time of discharge fell between 1am and 7.59am during the month of January 2021 by Ethnicity.

Provider Agency (DHB)

Māori

Non Māori

Total

Auckland

0

8

8

Bay of Plenty

1

12

13

Canterbury

0

2

2

Capital and Coast

0

18

18

Counties Manukau

0

7

7

Hawke’s Bay

0

13

13

Hutt Valley

0

5

5

Lakes

0

1

1

MidCentral

0

13

13

Nelson Marlborough

0

12

12

Northland

0

4

4

South Canterbury

0

5

5

Southern

0

11

11

Tairāwhiti

1

1

2

Taranaki

0

1

1

Waikato

0

12

12

Wairarapa

0

1

1

Waitematā

0

23

23

West Coast

0

1

1

Whanganui

1

3

4

National Total

3

153

156

 

Please note this excludes those patients who passed away in hospital or who were discharged/transferred to another service or facility. These numbers also exclude patients who present at an Emergency Department between these hours and were not admitted to hospital.

This data was extracted from National Minimum Dataset on 30 March 2021 and includes elective, arranged and acute admissions, and casemix Included events only. Data is by DHB of Service.

Wait times for mental health services putting young Southlanders lives at risk

April 12, 2021 Share

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says a dramatic increase in the waiting times for young Southlanders to access mental health services could be putting lives at risk.

"I'm hearing regularly from people about their struggles to access vital mental health services for children and young people  - they're worried for the safety of their families and they're often left with nowhere to turn.

"Southern DHB wait times for young people needing mental health support have increased since Labour's election in 2017, by a massive 61 per cent. In 2016/17 the wait time to access mental health services was 18 days, but by 2019/20 that had ballooned out to 29 days.

"These are frightening statistics. It's very concerning that young people are waiting so long for help, it's putting their lives at risk.

"Our suicide rates are already too high. Stresses on this age group are increasing, from fears about Covid-19, to worries about the latest changes to NCEA, getting a job, student loan debt and social media pressure.

"Some young people do feel those pressures more than other and it impacts on their mental health, they should be able to receive the help they need much quicker.

"If we can't provide the right support for our children and adolescents, then we're failing them.

"We're constantly told by the Government it has invested hugely into mental health. But what we can see from the community and services is that money is not flowing in and not making the difference it should.

"The Government must urgently address these shocking mental health service delays - to do nothing is to play Russian roulette with our children's lives."

Beehive Column April 2021 - Southland Times Opinion Piece

April 05, 2021 Share

Originally published as a column in The Southland Times

Health is an issue at the forefront of many Southlanders’ minds. Last week I visited the Rotorua District Health Board looking at their hospital and services. This was particularly relevant to our region, given the detail I am seeking from the Health Minister regarding local hospital waiting times, compared to other similar sized populations.

I am starting to piece together information which indicates that our hospital was built too small for our population, with census data at the time inadvertently forecasting that our population would decline.

Clearly that has not happened and it looks like we are about 80 beds, and 2 operating theatres short, in comparison to the average rates of other similar sized populations. Clearly this has had a major impact on the services we receive, waiting times for surgery and the length of stays at the hospital.

I am aware that senior clinicians and nursing staff are extremely frustrated by this and what it means for their patients. I am determined to gather more information in the coming weeks and keep the community informed.

This week I took National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett on a tour of the area, visiting a number of farms, farmers and rural industries. The innovation and resilience shown by everyone we visited was inspiring. Farmers are already implementing many environmental initiatives and following best practice, without the threat from Environment Minister David Parker imposing his poorly thought out regulations.

The frustrating thing for farmers is that Minister Parker has demanded farmers’ improve winter grazing practices, animal welfare, and runoff reduction, or else. He has failed to indicate acceptable science-based benchmarks, or outline what definitive level of improvement is required in the South, effectively leaving farmers’ out on a limb with little recognition of the positive work that has already been done.

I spent a day in the Hawkes Bay recently visiting Watties processing plant and a number of growers and orchards. The lack of Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) workers there is chronic. Fruit is being left on trees, vegetables are taking longer to harvest meaning significant amounts are not of a good quality to process, while parts of the processing plant have had to be shut down for days while enough workers are found to process critical crops, and labour costs are escalating.

Growers and managers are tired, frustrated and angry that the Pacific Islands bubble that National has been advocating has not been opened, allowing more RSE workers in to improve productivity and give some relief. I also worry about the implications of these delays on the Central Otago region, which also relies heavily on RSE workers to harvest fruit.

Meanwhile, Pacific Island communities are losing up to 80 percent of their income as tourism disappears and RSE worker income declines. At the same time New Zealand’s horticulture sector is losing productivity, wasting good food, while the cost of our local produce increases. It seems like a ‘no brainer’ to open up the Pacific bubble, let more RSE workers in and help our horticulture sector, our economy and our Pacific neighbours.

The Government has just slapped ‘mum and dad investors,’ in the face. They make up 79 percent of rental property owners who are using their investment as a way of saving for their retirement, with the Government now penalising them by removing their ability to claim interest as a genuine business expense for tax purposes. It’s a real betrayal.

Finally, to everyone who took the time to listen to, watch or read my maiden speech last week, a sincere thanks for your support. It was a very special occasion and I felt an enormous sense of pride and responsibility representing you all.

For now, I wish you all a Happy Easter – may you enjoy a safe and restful time with your family and friends.

Drier project at BioActive Soils opened today

March 29, 2021 Share

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says the opening today of a new $250,000 drier project at BioActive Soils, at Kennington, is a positive step forward for the biological fertiliser company.

“This Southland-made, locally designed and built drier will not only increase efficiency for the company, but will also allow them to meet the increasing demand for their product.

“BioActive Soils produce innovative solid fertiliser products using biology sourced from open ocean fish and seaweed, and work with nature to deliver soil, plant, animal and environmental improvements for farming businesses.

“Their solid fertiliser reduces nitrogen input by up to 70 per cent, improved soil moisture, eliminates weeds and reduces vet bills, so the on farm benefits are significant.

“As our commitment to environmental farm management grows, products like this will become even more important to Southland farmers and it’s exciting to see this kind of innovation in our province.” 

National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett joined Ms Simmonds in cutting the ribbon on the new project today. 

Visits were also made to Transport World, the Alliance Group and the Southland Demonstration Farm.

No choice but to delay winter grazing rules

March 18, 2021 Share

The Government has had no choice but to respond to the concerns of Southland famers around winter grazing rules, MP for Invercargill and National’s Associate Agriculture spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

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