Chlöe Swarbrick: Auckland Central MP

I’m writing this from my city centre apartment on the cusp of Alert Level 3, reflecting on all that has happened since we went into Level 4 lockdown over a month ago.

The business of Parliament continues this week, including legislation that brings into effect the Clean Car Discount and rule changes to require local government politicians declare their ‘pecuniary’ interests - a register of, for example, property or shares that could constitute a conflict of interest - as MPs are required to.

In Select Committee we’ll continue interrogating Unit Titles reform, where I’m collaborating with Nicola Willis (who picked up the Bill from Nikki Kaye!) on changes to improve, professionalise and simplify Body Corps for better apartment living.

I’ve reached out to Finance and Expenditure Committee Chair Dr Duncan Webb to secure some Treasury officials time to interrogate the regional impacts of Covid-19 - particularly here in Auckland - which should hopefully have a better fate than the weekly motion I put up on scrutinising house price forecasting (supported, consistently, by the Greens, National and ACT, but consistently voted down by the simple majority of Labour MPs).

As part our advocacy towards the local Covid-19 response, my team politely hounded the Northern Regional Health Coordination Centre to almost double the capacity of our walk-in Covid Vaccination Centre, going from 600 per day capacity at the former Elliott Street site to 1,000 at 35 Graham Street. Shout out to Dr Anthony Jordan and the NRHCC team for this mahi, and for bringing ever more pharmacies on board (including Unichem in Three Lamps).

We’ve also been fielding requests from community members who are elderly or disabled and ensured vaccinators are available for home visits. The Victoria Street carpark pop-up testing site we helped establish has continued servicing our central community, churning through thousands of tests in less than 24 hours turn-around over the past five weeks. Thank you, thank you, thank you to our frontline healthcare workers.

Thank you, as well, to all of you who’ve stuck to your bubbles and done your bit to keep our communities safe. I can’t even imagine the work for parents (I’ve privilege in only having had to deal with a very needy cat!) in juggling school and work from home. Touching base with principals of schools in the electorate, it’s clear there’s immense demand on our families to make this work, and however you did it, all power to you.

I’ve continued to touch base weekly with business associations across the electorate, and want to specifically shout out our local Ponsonby Business Association’s Viv Rosenberg for her mahi in helping us to pull together an online hui for grassroots feedback directly from those impacted. This feedback, plus that gathered from KBA, Heart of the City, the Restaurant Association and Auckland Hospitality Association, has informed letters to Auckland Council and the Minister of Finance on the specific support needed, along with lines of inquiry and ongoing advocacy for commercial tenancy relief.

When we one day wake up in Alert Level 2 - or, if we can dream, Level 1 - it would be incredible to do so with some creative and exciting community celebrations. That’s why I’ve also been working with Councillor Richard Hills and the team on how we can best remove arduous regulatory and cost barriers to achieve a beautiful network of outdoor dining, to highlight and provide awesome hospitality (literally!) for people to visit Ponsonby.

Every single week I continue to touch base with our phenomenal frontline workers in Auckland City Mission and Lifewise, and with the drop to Level 3, my office will be collaborating to get reusable masks out to members of our community who need them.

In the cut and thrust of Covid-19 news, it’s easy to forget some of the longer-standing issues we’ve been dealing with. On the front of arts, culture and heritage, it’s been a delight to hear of developments to restore our Leys Institute - that never would’ve happened without the galvanising of the community. It’s also been incredible to begin coordinating the ask for Government to front up, like Council has, to restore the mighty St James Theatre.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be putting some information out there about the Auckland Central Youth Board we’ll be forming, to inform and develop some young leaders in our area towards the fun and excitement of Youth Parliament next year. If there’s a young person in your life (between 16 -18 years old in November this year), make sure they drop us a line on if they’re interested in keeping in the loop! (Chlöe SWARBRICK)

Chlöe Swarbrick, T: 09 378 4810, E:

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Published 1 October 2021