Mon, Apr 15, 2024 2:00 PM

Q&A - MP Jamie Arbuckle


William Woodworth

Before his public meeting at the Wesley Centre at 1pm on Tuesday 16 April, NZ First list MP, party whip, and Marlborough District Councillor Jamie Arbuckle spoke with William Woodworth about governmental decisions impacting Marlburians and his experience so far holding office as both a regional and national politician.

Now that you’re 6 months into the holding both a regional councillor and national list MP office, have you found the juggling act between the regional and national political offices?

Obviously it has been busy but the crossover has been really productive. Specifically, taking my local government knowledge into parliament has been really helpful. Understanding how central government works has provided invaluable learnings to take back to local government, and this enhances local council engagement.

Are there any points of pride you feel you’ve accomplished for Marlburians so far, and any you’re looking to achieve in the near future?

So far it’s been about connection, breaking down barriers between communities, industry, and parliament. I have spent a huge amount of my time meeting with constituents and industry to open up those channels for people to understand the process of accessing parliament.

What issues have you found so far that locals have reached out to you about the most?

There was resounding consensus that people are most concerned about the cost of living and that the Covid Inquiry has been highly anticipated since we announced it early in our 2023 campaign.

Fellow MP Stuart Smith’s Cellar Door Amendment act has been widely welcomed by locals - so I’d love a comment on that - but also how is the working relationship alongside Stuart as Marlborough’s local MP’s?

The Cellar Door Amendment has gone through the Justice Select Committee of which I’m the Deputy Chairperson, so I’ve heard all the submissions, and New Zealand First is in favour of this bill – it’s a common-sense bill.

My relationship with Stuart as the local electorate MP in my area has been excellent, very positive.

Being a list MP for New Zealand First, I’m able to extend my own coverage a bit further afield, while maintaining a connection on local issues that I can support Stuart on where possible.

What comments do you have around the major changeups that the media landscape has seen, not only with the large national companies proving to be struggling but also the Public Interest Journalism fund?

NZ First has always believed that an impartial and unbiased fourth estate is essential to a successful democracy. Dictating content in order to receive funding goes against that, and is one of the reasons that there is an increased lack of trust in New Zealand’s media that has seen much of the public actively avoid engaging with them.

The impartiality of media should be the foundation of its reporting, but the landscape of mainstream media is in a dramatic process of change.  As our leader Winston Peters has said, we are in need of a robust fourth estate in our democracy more desperately than ever and NZ First will continue to champion democracy.

Two of your priorities going into the office have been on (according to the Combined Colleges and the Port Marlborough development. Obviously since the election, both of those projects are under re-consideration – where has been your role with, and understanding of, these projects up to date?

As a list MP, I have been getting some of our team into the area, so as a party, these issues remain on our radar. The main issue for both was the unforeseen blowout in costs. We need strategic infrastructure that happens in manageable, incremental, affordable stages. Both projects need to proceed but likely in different forms than were first promoted.

Marlborough has been through a major drought which as a local farmer and grower yourself, I’m sure you’ve been very aware of. What long-term solutions have been posed for rural Marlburians, especially our sheep and cattle farmers, that have had a hard time of it recently?

I have had fellow list MP and Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson with me to see the effects first hand at a local level. Going forward, water storage is a big factor in addressing drought challenges and NZ First has always supported these projects. Previously we’ve improved water storage capacity through the Provincial Growth Fund and the upcoming Regional Infrastructure Fund provides more opportunity for investment.

With party mate Shane Jones being a prevalent figure recently around the Fast Track Approvals Bill, does the recent signalling of the Government to open up DoC land mean anything for plans through the Bill in the Mount Richmond Forest Park and the Molesworth/Clarence/Kaikoura Ranges?

New Zealand First believes that in order to rebuild our economy, we must focus on utilising our natural resources. Our economic role as part of this government, and through Shane Jones, has been about being open to development opportunities and working with industry to unleash our economic potential in the regions.

What do you personally hope to advocate for Marlburians, and New Zealanders in general, over the remaining 2.5 years until the next election?

I’m happy to be part of the team bringing commonsense solutions to progress our economic future, strengthen our exports, ensure we have safer communities, and improve the lives of all New Zealanders. The sooner we can move past this woke cancel culture and focus on getting things done, the better.

Blenheim Public Meeting
Now, 6 months since the election, we’re bringing you more updates on our progress in our parliamentary work and giving you a chance to meet some of our MPs.At 1pm, Tuesday 16 April, Jamie Arbuckle MP will be holding a public meeting at the Wesley Centre in Blenheim to provide updates on our progres…
Marlborough App Logo
Marlborough App
Marlborough App is owned by Top South Media. a locally owned media company.