Hon Louise Upston - December 2016 E-Newsletter

Electorate news
Friday, December 16, 2016

Hon Louise Upston
MP for Taupo

In this issue

  • Year-end round up
  • Out and about in the electorate 
  • Coffee Catch ups and Friendly Forums
  • Contact me and Xmas office hours

As an action packed 2016 draws to a close, I am reflecting on a year of many activities and achievements in our Taupo electorate while working through some real challenges along the way.

Who would have thought this time last year that our National-led Government will have a new leadership team! A sincere congratulations to the Hon Bill English and Hon Paula Bennett who have been selected by caucus to lead our Government into the new year as the 39th Prime Minister and 18th Deputy Prime Minister respectively. Under their leadership, New Zealanders will continue to benefit from the stable government they expect, along with a dedicated focus on delivering results for families and businesses. I certainly look forward to working with them both!

With Hon Bill English

While we bid a farewell to outgoing Prime Minister John Key, he will be fondly remembered for his strong leadership of National and as New Zealand's Prime Minister. I really enjoyed working with John and wish him, Bronagh, and his family all the best for life after politics. 

In the meantime, our country is in great shape!  Our region and towns continue to benefit from a strong, growing national economy and this has seen positive results for our local economy and growth in the rural sector.   The economy is also diversifying and tourism is now bigger than the dairy industry.  Our public finances are very healthy and interest rates at a near record lows. Incomes are rising with the average annual wage now $58,400 – up $12,000 since 2008, and there are 144,000 more jobs created in the last year. Unemployment has fallen to 4.9 per cent and we have the second highest employment rate in the OECD.  The average annual wage is now $58,400 – up $12,000 since 2008, more than double the rate of inflation.   

The National-led Government’s family support initiatives continue to make a real difference to the quality of life for people in our local community. New Zealanders have confidence that National will support them when they are in need.  

I am excited about the possibilities that the New Year will bring and will be back in touch again in February with a bumper newspaper issue full of details of activities planned for 2017, including dates for Coffee Catch ups and Friendly Forums across the electorate.

Out and about in the electorate

Our Taupo electorate with its vibrant communities saw a number of MPs, Ministers, and the Prime Minister visit the electorate this year. I’ve been proud to show them around our bustling towns brimming with new businesses. And with locals and visitors alike have certainly been making the most of a thriving tourism industry. In Cambridge we are one year on from the Cambridge section of the Waikato expressway opening and locals and visitors alike have certainly been making the most of a thriving tourism industry.

It was heartening to see our rural communities come together when faced with dairy price fluctuations this year.  When we hosted Primary Industries Minister Hon Nathan Guy at a number of shed meetings in Cambridge and Tirau earlier, I was encouraged by the positive discussions and information shared by our dairy farmers about ways to get through during tougher times.   The good news is that exports are now up $8.4 billion, or 13.4 per cent, on three years ago – despite the fact that was when milk prices were near record highs.
The recent opening of a new state-of-the-art milk powder plan at Fonterra Lichfield sees the creation of 70 new jobs in Tokoroa, with more than 3000 people working on the expansion of this innovative powder dryer, the world’s joint largest!

With John Wilson – Chair of Fonterra, Samuel Mikaere – South Waikato Operations Manager, Ruthana Begbie – Raukawa iwi representative, Mayor Jenny Shattock – South Waikato District Mayor and Robert Spurway – Chief Operating Officer Global Operations, Fonterra.

Provincial Priorities

We are also seeing strong growth in our regions across ICT services, construction, the wine industry, international education, and high-tech manufacturing. In September I hosted a number of Provincial Priorities meetings joined by caucus colleagues MP Barbara Kuriger, MP Ian McKelvie, and MP Todd Barclay on an electorate-wide tour.  We talked to our communities about key issues and opportunities in our regions.

Tokoroa Road Rail Terminal

South Waikato celebrated a major milestone too this year when Transport Minister Simon Bridges joined us for the opening of the Tokoroa Road Rail Terminal.  This major inland freight and distribution hub brings substantial economic spinoffs for both importers and exporters, and includes industrial and business development opportunities and more jobs in our local communities.  

Housing and affordability

Many New Zealanders are concerned about housing and housing affordability, with the effects reaching our local communities as people move out of the cities and into the regions.  It’s a challenge National is facing head on with a comprehensive plan. Hon Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Housing spoke at one of our Friendly Forums this year and she gave an insightful overview of the Government’s plans and policies in regards to social housing.  More houses are being built and in the last five years annual building consents have more than doubled nationally.

With Hon Paula Bennett

Education and school infrastructure

As our communities grow, so do our schools.  A big highlight for me this year was the $9 million in funding secured for Cambridge High School and advance funding secured for Cambridge East Primary as they face increasing school role growth. Our Government is continuing its substantial investment in quality education and school infrastructure for our children.  I enjoyed hosting Minister of Education Hekia Parata in Taupo in October for the launch of the Taupo Communities of Learning.  I will continue to advocate tirelessly for improvements to school infrastructure in the electorate to ensure our children have modern schooling environments.

Law and Order

Law and order are issues of top priority on the Government’s agenda. In Cambridge we are working closely with the local community and Police to address concerns around increasing crime.

We are also making sweeping changes to family violence legislation, stemming from the comprehensive review of the 20-year old Domestic Violence Act. During a visit to Taupo by Minister of Justice, Hon Amy Adams, I was encouraged to hear from the many service providers who came together. They came to meet the Minister to discuss not only their experiences and challenges faced, but also the positive changes their work in our communities are effecting.

I met staff and management at Countdown Taupo where we discussed what the franchise’s new family violence policy means for them. It’s heartening to see the franchise getting behind and supporting their staff and families in the event of difficult times. I fully applaud their initiative!

Coffee catch ups and Friendly Forums

I’ve enjoyed meeting many of you at the number of Coffee Catch up meetings and Friendly Forums held throughout the year.  I always welcome your constructive feedback and ideas on how we as a Government can do better and look forward to continuing those events throughout 2017.  

Do keep an eye out for the February 2017 newspaper for more details about where and when our next series of Coffee Catch Ups, Friendly Forums, and Question Time sessions will be held.

Contact me

While the electorate offices will close over the Christmas period you can contact me for urgent assistance via email louise.upstonmp@parliament.govt.nz or by calling 07 376 5563.

  • Cambridge Office: Office closed 16 December 2016 until 8 February 2017 
  • South Waikato Office: Office closed 23 December 2016 until 6 January 2017
  • Taupo Office: Office closed 23 December until 9 January 2017  
  • Parliament: Office closed 23 December until 4 January 2016 

Finally, this time of year is a time of certificates, medals, trophies, awards, and prizes celebrating achievements in our schools. I love seeing our children shine at this time of year – so a big heartfelt round of applause to all of you. You so deserve it for the effort you have put in.   

I am really looking forward to enjoying Christmas at home with my family. I plan to make the most of what I hope will be some glorious weather with my children. Bring on the summer BBQ’s and time spent enjoying our beautiful lakes and countryside! 
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and a prosperous year in 2017. 

Kind regards,

Authorised by Louise Upston MP, 67 Paora Hapi Street, Taupo. Please do not reply directly to this newsletter. If you want to share your reactions with Hon Louise Upston, email louise.upstonmp@parliament.govt.nz.