Wanganui Chronicle

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

LAST week was a busy one in Wellington.

The flag debate heated up again when a new bill was introduced to the house by Green MP Gareth Hughes which culminated in a vote on Thursday. Parliament decided by an overwhelming majority to have a fifth option added to the first postal referendum ballot paper.

The New Zealand Flag Referendums' Amendment Bill allows the Red Peak design to join the other four design options already on the ballot after they were recommended by the independent Flag Consideration Panel.

The passing of the bill confirms the Government's preelection commitment to secure New Zealanders their first opportunity ever to vote on the flag they believe best represents them and our country.

My preference is still the black and blue silver fern with the Southern Cross as it is a flag that represents our past and future, and I believe it will give a new relevance to our country's place in the world.

A couple of weekends ago, I attended the Mudder, which is a farm-based mud run - or walk - for those passionate about mud.

It is organised by Andrew and Kylie Stewart and held on their sheep and beef property north of Marton. The Mudder is a fantastic spectacle and a great example of a local event that is promoting the region and encouraging those out of town to enjoy our rural heartland. Keep an eye out for it next year - it's certainly a great day out.

The Lochinvar decision is interesting, particularly for those of us in rural New Zealand.

It's clear the potential overseas buyer did not present an offer that represented a substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand - at least one that was over and above what a New Zealand buyer would have been able to add. I believe the ministers have made a good decision.

The Prime Minister visited the electorate on Friday and managed a busy itinerary on a perfect Rangitikei spring day. He attended the official opening of the administration building at Glen Oroua School before a great crowd. He then went on to a function at the Southern Rangitikei Vet Club in Bulls.

Next on the agenda was a visit to Rangitikei College in Marton, where he met students and staff.

Finally, he went to an afternoon function in Feilding in honour of our special Olympians who competed at the World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

It was a great way to wrap up the day and many of the athletes had travelled a long way to meet him.

It was noted in the speeches that they were especially grateful to the Prime Minister for the personal messages he sent to the team while they were in LA, offering his support and encouragement, personally and on behalf of all New Zealanders.

As chairman of Special Olympics NZ, it was a great way to wrap up a successful campaign and celebrate with some very special athletes and their families.

"It's clear the potential overseas buyer did not present an offer that represented a substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand . . ."