First term a huge learning curve

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There have been challenges but also huge rewards during Clutha/Southland Todd Barclay’s first term in office.

While he had to develop a thick skin and brave his critics, he is looking forward to returning to the longtime National-held seat after the September election.

“It’s not all sunshine and lollipops,” Mr Barclay said.

But getting to know organisations operating in the electorate and its people had been a part of the job he had thoroughly enjoyed.

The large Clutha/Southland electorate was much more diverse than he first thought, he said.

The relationship-building exercise the new MP had embarked on in his first term had brought about a deep understanding and appreciation of the work carried out by agencies such as Gore Women’s Refuge and Southland Rural Support Trust.

Learning of the Gore Women’s Refuge’s work at the coalface of domestic violence brought an awareness of the “high risk” area those staff worked in.

There was still a lot of under-reporting, he said.

He encouraged people who were living with domestic violence to speak up.

Mr Barclay admitted learning about the work of the women’s refuge and dealing with cases that came to his office had provided a steep learning curve.

“When people come to the office, it’s probably their last resort,” he said.

Making sure the right help and support was put in place was paramount.

Gaining an insight into how Gore Hospital was run, the services it provided and how they were funded gave Mr Barclay an appreciation of the work its chief executive, Karl Metzler, did.

“It’s a perfect study of a health facility well and truly punching above its weight.”

He was sure Mr Metzler would serve his community well in his role on the Southern District Health Board.

Mr Barclay was able to focus 100% on the huge electorate, unlike the previous Clutha/Southland MP, Bill English, who had to divide his time between his responsibilities in Wellington and the electorate.

Spending more time in the electorate enabled him to stamp his mark on the way he ran it.

He described himself as a member of a team that served the electorate. Finding out what the issues were for its residents was important, he said.

Environment Southland’s Land and Water plan was one piece of legislation he intended to keep a close eye on. It could have a huge impact on economic growth, he said.