Full steam ahead for O¯ 2NL
Ihope you all enjoyed the long weekend and were able to spend some time relaxing. Congratulations to the recipients in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. If you know of someone in our community who is deserving of an honour, submit a nomination for the next round which are announced in the New Year. In my maiden speech to Parliament back in December, I talked about how polluted our taonga Lake Horowhenua is. I committed in that speech to join my voice with the people Muau¯ poko, who have been fighting for decades for the lake and to protect and restore our environment. And this Government listened. I was proud to stand alongside David Parker as we announced $11.2 million of targeted government funding for cleaning up the lake. Working with Horizons Regional Council, we’ve jointly brought 142 hectares of farmland around the lake, and this land will be used to develop a nationally significant wetland. This wetland will create up to 45 fulltime equivalent jobs over four year and will drastically improve water quality and the habitat for native fish, birds, and plant species. I also mentioned in my maiden speech that I would stand by our Government’s commitment to the four-lane O¯ taki to North of Levin (O¯ 2NL) highway. Recently there has been a bit of speculation around projects from our infrastructure program — the New Zealand Upgrade Programme — being cut or altered due to increased costs from Covid-19. Our Expressway was frequently named in the media as something that may be delayed or cut entirely. I met with the Minister of Transport and officials on the project many times over the last month, conveying what our local community knows, that O¯ 2NL is needed to improve safety and resilience and to cut congestion. It’s one of the most dangerous sections of roads to drive in New Zealand. And again our voices were heard — at the Electra Business Breakfast last week Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson committed to the road. As a result of Covid, several projects across the country have been¯changed or delayed. I’m happy to confirm that Otaki to North of Levin is full steam ahead for the 2025 construction start date. The cost has increased from the original price of $817m up to $1.5 billion, so this shows just how committed our Government is to the O¯ taki electorate. My Levin electorate office is now open to the public! My team have done a great job at working remotely up until now and we have been able to meet with constituents at various pop ups throughout the electorate. I am very happy that all the works are finished and we can now see people face to face. The office is located at 106 Oxford St, directly opposite the Adventure Playground, and is open Monday to Friday.