Why leaving Lockdown is just beginning

When I was chosen to follow on from Hon Maggie Barry after she retires in September, and campaign in the General Election, I had no idea that 2020 would claim a permanent place in my memory for anything other than a hopefully successful campaign.

A lot has changed.

For a start, my children have got used to having Shannon and I around 24/7. We walk, bike, cook together and have generally discovered what good mates we are. An enforced slowdown, without the usual mad rush of events and children’s activities, has given us all memories to hold onto and a fresh perspective on what we want to take forward from this.

Of course, there’s more to COVID-19 than rediscovering precious family time. This virus has created burdens many of us are struggling to bear. Whether it’s the threat to our livelihoods and quality of life, or lingering concerns about health. These are challenging times, probably the worst many of us have been through, but the virus must not be allowed to undermine the confidence of businesses and reduce the vitality of our communities any longer.

Through our own sacrifices, we have come through the other side of the pandemic, and the perspectives we’ve gained during that process need to inform what we do from this point forward. Getting back to normal isn’t enough, it has to be better than before. Why should we put up with gridlocked roads again, polluted beaches, or a lack of innovative thinking in the way we support local businesses?

I was in London during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, and I have been both the Deputy Chief Financial Officer at Waitematā DHB and an ambulance officer before moving into politics. These were all very different experiences, but they taught me a common truth. When everything you know is turned upside down or the pressure’s on to do more with what you have – act decisively.

We’re in a great place on the Shore, but this is no time to sit back and celebrate the end of Lockdown. Ask the businesses that are struggling to hold on, talk to the breadwinners who worry every night about paying the bills.

There is no time to waste.

The North Shore is blessed with talent and opportunities, with strong community partnerships, innovative businesses, and an outstanding natural environment. I’m going to build on this, harnessing the talent we have here and making our voices heard in Wellington so we get our fair share of attention and resources. Whether that's improving transport links, upgrading our wastewater to make our beaches safer to swim at, supporting our local businesses during this economic downturn, or ensuring our frontline health services get the support they need.

We’ve got a lot to do, so keep in touch. Send emails to [email protected]. Go to Facebook for Live Streams (Simon Watts for North Shore). Or call me on 021 0903 1040. Take care, Simon Watts.