South Waikato News - End of year column
The holiday season is a time to get together with family and friends, and enjoy the good things about the great Kiwi summer. It’s also a time to take stock, and a time to look to the year ahead.
As we look back over the past year, I am proud of what this Government has achieved.
After a slow start to the year, the economy is performing solidly with a positive outlook in the coming years. Jobs and wages are growing – 34,000 new jobs in the past year, and wages growing considerably faster than the cost of living.
We’re continuing to see improved results from our public services in areas that really matter – such as better health care, lower crime, higher educational achievement, and more New Zealanders moving off welfare into work. This year the Government’s books got back into surplus. A significant milestone and one we can all take great pride in.
This year our free doctor visits and free prescriptions for children under 13 came into effect. We also extended paid parental leave this year and in 2016 Kiwi families will get another two weeks. We’re doing more to help children living in hardship, including increasing benefit rates for families with children by $25 a week – the first real increase in more than 40 years.
Record numbers of tourists are visiting New Zealand and spending more than ever before – around $9.4 billion a year. It looks like we are in for a busy summer period which is great news for the many new local businesses I’ve seen opening up in the area. This will just continue to add to our already vibrant community.
We also saw the opening of the Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway. It is the biggest single roading project in Waikato’s history. Although completion of this project is still a few years away, the Expressway will greatly reduce travel times, improve road safety and boost the economy.
As I look at ahead to 2016 it is already shaping up to be a busy but exciting year. The focus will continue to be on the issues that matter in our South Waikato community, and for the rest of New Zealand.
One of the best parts of my job as your local MP is meeting with so many of you in the community. I’m looking forward to seeing more of you in my electorate on the streets and at events throughout the year.
I am very much looking forward to spending time with my family over the summer break. Getting out and making the most of the glorious weather, and enjoying this beautiful country we are so lucky to call home. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas & New Year.