I’m proud to say that under this Government children are staying in school longer and leaving better qualified. Earlier this year I announced a $359 million plan to raise achievement through recognising excellent teachers and principals. This policy keeps good teachers in the classroom, and sharing expertise across schools, for the benefit of all the children.
Last week as part of that initiative, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced the first 11 approved communities of schools set to begin in term one next year. This is a big win for our kids, because schools will be working together in a way that they haven’t done so before in order to help students get the most out of their time in school. Last week, Parliament officially broke up for the year allowing MPs to return home and reflect on what a big year 2014 was. For the National Party, this year will be remembered for the great election result. We delivered an increased share of the vote in our third term, something that hasn’t happen from a Government’s perspective since 1896.
But this was also a big year for New Zealand: the unemployment rate fell, more New Zealandersgot jobs; we set a new target with China of two-way trade of $30 billion dollars; we won a coveted seat on the UN security council for 2015-2016; our sporting teams continued to achieve great results and overall we saw real progress in the way our economy is strengthening and continuing to do well.
We also saw improved outcomes in law and order, health and education, the issues that really matter to New Zealanders. For the Government there is always more to be done. We can be happy with the progress that we have achieved this year, but I’m looking forward to 2015, where we will again be tackling some of the big issues facing New Zealand. We will be looking at ways to address child poverty in our communities, looking at the challenges around housing, making sure we continue to drive economic growth and continue to work on the rebuild of Christchurch.
So that’s it for 2014; I want to wish you all a happy holidays and New Year.