Marlborough Express - Connecting with the electorate

Columns
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One of the challenges of representing an electorate as large as Kaikoura is keeping in touch with everyone.

The electorate stretches from the top of the Sounds to Hurunui, so face-to-face communication on a regular basis with constituents is simply not always possible.
Modern technology has come to the rescue in the form of social media, and I'm embracing its ability to reach and interact with a wide audience. Facebook is a good example. "Like" my page, and you'll find regular updates about where I have been, what I've been up to in Parliament, what issues I'm looking at and where I'm going next. It is great to be able to update it quickly and easily to keep constituents in the loop during very busy times and, importantly, get your feedback.

In my last column, I explained what a week is like for me as the Kaikoura MP. To take that inside view a bit further, you'll see I've started a video diary, or blog, on the Facebook page where I tell you what I've been doing and also show you little pieces of Parliament, which may interest some.

You may already have noticed yourself that these videos are completely unrehearsed; in fact, I have very little time to prepare what I'll say before I'm due in front of the camera. The videos are a great way for me to keep you informed.

Additionally, I have been able to post clips of me inside Parliament, which you may otherwise never see.

This column is a more traditional but no less important way I choose to communicate, so I'll take the opportunity to cover a few things that I've been up to lately.

At the end of last month, I visited Progressive Enterprises in Auckland - the company which owns Countdown supermarkets as part of a Primary Production Select Committee site visit. I met some of the farmers who supply the supermarkets with meat and produce, including people from our own electorate. It was interesting to see the supply systems used by Progressive and I was impressed by these.

I also attended the Ballance Farm Environment Awards that were held at Parliament. It was fantastic being there to see the frontrunners of this important industry rewarded for their work.

Finally, I had the privilege of spending the day with a Myanmar young leader named Frank Exodus Chin. Frank is one of eight young leaders who have come to New Zealand as part of an annual study and experience programme. He was able to sit in with me on meetings, including a closed select committee meeting, and he watched Question Time in the House. I enjoyed learning about village life in Myanmar.

You can read all about this on my Facebook page, too. However, as useful as social media is, nothing beats face-to-face contact the door to my Scott St, Blenheim electorate office remains open.