Home Articles posted by Todd Muller

The European Union, or ‘EU’ for short, is a political and economic partnership of 28 European countries. It first began following World War Two with a hope that countries that traded together would be less likely to go to war with each other.

It has since grown over the years with the formation of a ‘single market’ that allows goods and people to move around all of Europe as if they were one single country. They have their own currency (the Euro is used by 19 of the member countries) and their own parliament that can set laws.

Brexit is a clever term used to describe the exit of Britain from the European Union. This was sparked by a referendum – a vote in which everyone of voting age can take part – on the 23rd of June 2016. 51.9% of Brits voted to leave the EU and 48.1% voted to stay. Over 71.8% of voters turned out which is over 30 million people.

The UK is scheduled to leave at 11pm UK time on Friday, 29 March 2019. If Brexit goes ahead as planned, Britain’s relationship with New Zealand will become even more important as they look for trade partners outside of Europe.

This week, as I have no doubt you have all seen on the news, Prime Minister John Key resigned from his position.
John has been a fantastic leader for our country over the past eight years and has navigated NZ through some of the most difficult challenges in our history such as the global financial crisis, the Canterbury earthquake, and the Pike River Mine disaster.
I am sad to see him go, but I understand his decision and wish his family well. While at the time of writing we are yet to go through the process of selecting a new leader, I understand that for many young people this may be a confusing time that raises a lot of questions.
Through this week’s column I hope that I may be able to give you an insight into the political leadership of our country. John Key has held two roles concurrently.
Firstly, he has been the leader of the New Zealand National Party. This is a role John Key was elected to in 2006 while Helen Clark was Prime Minister. This made him the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition is the leader of the largest opposition party – a role currently held by Andrew Little.
Secondly, he has been the Prime Minister of New Zealand. The position of Prime Minister could be described as the head of the government. He has held the position of Prime Minister because he is the top ranked MP in the governing party.
Because New Zealanders voted for a political party (National) and not specifically for a Prime Minister (John Key) we will not need to hold a national election.
Instead the leadership of the Party, and therefore the new Prime Minister, will be voted on by the National Party caucus. Caucus is a meeting of all of the Members of Parliament from a particular political party and occurs every Tuesday that Parliament sits. We meet to discuss policy ideas, political campaigns, and from time to time select leaders.
It is likely by the time you read this column we will have a New Prime Minister in place working hard for New Zealand, but I hope this column helps you understand the process we have undertaken. Todd Muller MP for the Bay of Plenty
The country is extremely proud of what our Paralympians achieved in Rio. Our 31 Kiwi Paralympians achieved 21 medals in total – nine gold, five silver, and seven bronze – which is three medals over their target.
On a medals per capita basis, New Zealand topped the table, maintaining the top position it achieved in London 2012.
It was fantastic that swimmers Sophie Pascoe, Mary Fisher and Cameron Leslie defended their 2012 Paralympic titles, and again won gold.
Congratulations also to gold medallists’ swimmer Nikita Howarth, and Liam Malone and Anna Grimaldi for their performances on the track and field.
Our Paralympian team built on previous successes and demonstrated the extraordinary things disabled people can accomplish through hard work and determination.
New Zealand achieved our 200th Paralympic medal in Rio when Sophie Pascoe claimed silver in her 50m freestyle final and she became the 10th most successful Paralympian in the world.
It was great that Kiwis across the country were able to support the team by watching the action on TVNZ and Attitude Live thanks to an arrangement secured with the support of ACC.
31 kiwi Paralympians competed in para-sports, para-athletics, para-cycling, para-sailing, para-canoeing, para-shooting and para-swimming. 68 separate events were contested across these 6 para-sports. Over half of the events contested saw kiwi Paralympians achieve personal best times and 11 Paralympic records were set by New Zealand.
The Paralympics featured 528 medal events across 23 sports, and around 4,350 competitors from more than 170 countries.
High Performance Sport NZ invested $12 million over the four year Paralympic cycle.
Conservation week began last Saturday and runs till Sunday the 18th of September. Conservation Week is the Department of Conservation’s (DOC’s) annual event celebrating our nature and giving all New Zealanders a chance to get active in conservation. It’s a full week, including 2 weekends, of inspiring activities and experiences for conservation. The week is all about raising awareness of the value of the physical, social, environmental and economic benefits of nature.

New Zealand has celebrated Conservation Week since 1969. Conservation is something everyone can participate in, whether as a business, group or individual. We all benefit from conservation, so getting involved means you’re playing an active part in protecting our future. This year’s theme is ‘Healthy Nature Healthy People’, which is all about improving health and wellbeing by enjoying the natural spaces around us. Exposure to our natural environments has positive effects on human health and wellbeing. DOC promotes this connection between the health of our environment and our people through ‘Healthy Nature Healthy People’. We encourage getting out into natural spaces, from our backyards, urban parks and beaches to our national parks, seas, lakes and wild rivers.
Studies show children who are connected to nature will want to enjoy it and save it, now and in the future. Spending time in nature also improves physical and mental health and wellbeing – it’s all about Healthy Nature Healthy People. More than 130 events are planned throughout the country during the week. The Department of Conservation encourages everyone to “join the team” for Conservation Week — help out with conservation efforts, connect with special places and contribute to Predator Free 2050, Battle for Our Birds 2016, the War on Weeds and other vital programmes.

Conservation Week is about getting out and having fun while enjoying our beautiful county. It gives us a chance to celebrate our wonderful natural environment. As a parent, I know that we can get caught up in day to day life without making time to stop and enjoy our beautiful environment. So my challenge to you is to help get your parents out in nature this week. You can attend one of the Conservation Week events, go out to a local park for a walk or do one of the activities from the below website together in your very own backyard. Please check out the links below for events, volunteer opportunities, activities, competitions and other ideas to help you get involved.

Events: www.doc.govt.nz/news/events/conservation-week/events/
Competitions: www.doc.govt.nz/news/events/conservation-week/competitions/
Activities: www.doc.govt.nz/news/events/conservation-week/do-an-activity/
Information: www.doc.govt.nz/conservationweek/

The Paris agreement on climate change, signed in April this year, is planned to be ratified by the end of 2016.
Agreements and treaties need to be ratified after they have been signed to make them officially valid. Ratifying the Paris agreement will represent New Zealand’s commitment to its ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Greenhouse gases include any gas that prevents heat from escaping our atmosphere. Global warming is caused by an increase of heat in the atmosphere and has potentially catastrophic effects for the world. To help stop global warming we must reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses that we make. Greenhouse gases are made by many things including cars, planes, factories and even the farming and agriculture industry.
This agreement aims to ensure that we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and if ratified early it reinforces New Zealand’s commitment to supporting initiative to combat climate change.
The Paris agreement was finalised in December last year, when countries that make up 99 per cent of global emissions set targets to reduce their emissions. There are now 180 countries that have signed the agreement.
For millions of years New Zealand was a land where our native birds could grow and flourish. The introduction of mammals and other exotic species from overseas overturned a natural ecosystem and pushed our native flora and fauna to the brink of extinction – over the brink in some cases.
Many of our most threatened native animals come under constant attack from introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums. These animals kill around 25 million native birds a year and are the most significant cause of New Zealand’s decline of threatened species.
Predators also wreak havoc for our agricultural sector by spreading disease, and destroying pasture, crops and forestry. They are also responsible for a widespread loss of biodiversity.
Since the 1960s we’ve eradicated predators from more than 100 islands. To further preserve the native species that are so important to our country a plan has been announced to protect New Zealand’s native animals and plants through an ambitious target of making the main islands of New Zealand predator free by 2050.
The recent predator free goal is a world-first initiative and one of the most ambitious conservation projects ever undertaken.Not only will the initiative help restore our native birds and boost our agricultural industry, it’s also set to improve the health of our forests and reinforce New Zealand’s trade and tourism brand.
The Government announced an initial funding injection of $28 million to the project, which will launch a new company that will couple Government expertise with philanthropic, business, and community efforts.
Achieving a predator free New Zealand is the next step in our conservation journey. The project will require a massive effort from our communities, but the end result will be worth it.