I attended Chinese New Year celebrations in Auckland last Saturday to officially mark the beginning of the Year of the Snake. It’s always wonderful to spend time with our country’s vibrant ethnic communities, whom I know make a very valuable contribution to New Zealand.
2013 is already off to a busy but exciting start. Parliament resumed on Tuesday and I delivered my commencement speech in which I outlined the National government’s plan to encourage investment, strengthen our economy, and increase jobs for New Zealanders. Our priorities remain clear: to responsibly manage the Government’s finances to return to surplus and reduce debt; to create a more competitive and productive economy; to drive better results and value for money from public services; and to support the rebuild of Christchurch. National was re-elected in 2011 with a clear plan to build a faster-growing economy supporting more jobs, higher incomes, and better public services. And we are delivering on that plan. We remain as committed as ever to building on the momentum of the past four years to deliver a brighter future for New Zealand. To ensure that our Cabinet team is re-energised for the busy times ahead I recently announced changes to the Cabinet, to bring new ideas and new energy into the Government.
Last week I was pleased to attend the swearing-in ceremony for our new and returning Ministers – Nick Smith, Nikki Kaye and Michael Woodhouse. The House also elected a new Speaker of the House – long-serving National MP David Carter. National has an extremely talented caucus and I’m confident that our new line-up is ready and firmly focused on the key priorities for this term. The House will be sitting again from Tuesday 12 February. Next week I will be in Waitangi to celebrate our national day.