Bill's Budget blues

I've got the post-Budget blues and one of Southland's finest sons is to blame. To be fair to Bill, he has been consistently zero for the past couple of years, writes Rino Tirikatene (Labour) in From the Beehive.

More money was made available for prisoners than for pensioners in this year's Budget and so it got me thinking about just how easy it is being a prisoner – free health care, unaffected by rising prescription fees, free counselling services and pastoral care, free gym membership and 24/7 monitoring.

Oh that our pensioners in some of those dodgy rest homes around the country should have those same facilities and privileges.

Maybe we should put the prisoners in rest homes and the pensioners in prisons. I'm being ironical, of course, but it does make me wonder.

Whanau Maori are jamming airport departure lounges with mihimihi and poroporoaki and sending our kids over to the Gold Coast where, as we've seen on TV, even untalented Maori can score good jobs. Why wouldn't they go?

Bill says "austerity" and Maori boy hears "Oz territory". No wonder I have the post-Budget blues.

What is breaking me out of my austere funk is the opening of my electorate office in Invercargill this Friday.

It's been a busy six months trying to set up communication lines for such a big electorate and I know my secretary, Jan Noonan, has been busy running around organising last-minute signage and sending out invitations.

The Murihiku office – first floor, 122 Esk St – will join the ones I have in Poneke, Whakatu and Otautahi, and with my recently introduced 0800 TE TAI TONGA freephone service, I hope to make it as easy as possible for whanau to get in touch with any one of my four offices.

I have more ideas I hope will make communication with my Tai Tonga offices far easier and will reveal more in a couple of weeks. I can't give too much away at the mo' but can say it involves music.

Just before I go, a reminder to all Facebook members. It's important to keep updating your status. Just ask former Te Tai Tonga MP Rahui Katene, who until last week was telling everyone she was still the Southern Maori MP. The media gave me a bit of stick after Rahui stirred up the pot in Otautahi. She claimed I had been sending my constituents to Pakeha MPs for help, that I was generally doing poorly in my job and that people were coming to her for help. Well, it doesn't help when you have former MPs lying on Facebook.

» Rino Tirikatene is the MP for Te Tai Tonga.

The Southland Times