“It hasn’t all been plain-sailing,” says Hamilton list MP of his life in bubble
By: Gurbir Singh
Alert level 4 lockdown has kept everyone confined to their homes for the past 4-weeks, including our politicians.
Staying at home would have been probably harder for political leaders, having been used to a hectic social life in the community.
NewsViews approached a couple of Hamilton politicians, including Jamie Strange, Labour-list MP, to find out how they have been spending time in their bubble.
For Strange, this period did throw up a few challenges with virtual work having to be juggled with family time.
“It hasn’t all been plain-sailing, but it has been nice not having to rush off to Wellington for Parliament,” says Jamie Strange.
As alert level 4 lockdown heads to an end, NewsViews contacted a couple of local MPs to find out how they have managed the stay-at-home period. Here is the first exclusive response from Labour list MP, Jamie Strange
“I have been working from home…(and was) involved in a number of Zoom meetings with business leaders, community organisations and local Mayors. As Labour Party MP, we also have a weekly Caucus meeting with our PM.”
Additionally, “I have also been working with Hamilton City Council on an exciting suite of projects to provide economic development and jobs after Covid-19. These ‘shovel-ready’ projects – for example, improve and urbanise roading/transport options across Hamilton, revitalisation of city centre projects, etc. – have now been presented to Govt for their potential finance support.”
Confinement at home for Strange and wife, Angela (a Waikato Regional Councillor) also meant deviation from with their own dominant roles of serving the community, to parenting of their children.
“Angela and I both used to be school teachers, so we have been juggling our current jobs with that former occupation. Along with the school work, we have been focusing on teaching our four children (aged 6-12) life skills such as cooking, gardening and building.”
With the intention of making best use of this quality time, “we have done a number of local family bike rides together, played football, and watched a couple of movies. My wife and I have been watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix, and I have been watching sporting documentaries,” he added.
Answering a question from NewsViews if it was safe for children to return to school during alert level 3, and whether their own children would return to school next week, Strange said: “The reopening of schools provides the opportunity for 400,000 more New Zealanders to go back to work. I expect the numbers of students attending to be low, and have full confidence our teaching professional will do an excellent job.”
But, “as we are both working from home, our children will continue learning from home,” he adds.
With New Zealand moving out of alert level 4 at 11.59 pm on Monday, 27 April, the Hamilton MP praised Waikato region residents and frontline workers for their sacrifices.
“Those of us living in the Waikato region have shown unity, sacrifice, and support for our fellow residents. We should be enormously proud of what we are achieving together. A special thank you to all those who have been working in essential services during this challenging time.
“It’s been wonderful seeing individuals and community groups support our most vulnerable by making well-being phone calls, collecting and delivering food, and providing other services.
“I’m proud of the way our country – a team of five million people, has responded.”
Giving credit to the PM Jacinda Ardern for providing “strong, decisive and caring leadership,” he says we as a country “went hard early, and are now seeing the benefits of this.”
When NewsViews asked if he had been in touch with his constituents during the isolation period, Strange said: “I have been directly engaging in an online capacity, supporting people with their Covid-19 issues – wage subsidies, business support, and health. My office and I have engaged with thousands of residents over the past few weeks, including . Also, some of my team have been making phone calls to our senior citizens to check in on them.”
In reply to a question if he had developed any strategies for the forthcoming election, he said “that is not our current focus (but) the election is still due to take place on 19th September.”
With the resumption of some services in alert level 3, he told NewsViews “my family and I will be supporting local businesses, as they begin trading again in an online capacity. It’s important we all look to support Waikato businesses, whether it be by ordering food or purchasing their goods and services online.”
Reminding people not to be lax during the next phase of alert level, Jamie Strange reiterated the message: Stay home, stay local and keep your bubble as small as possible.