A year on from the 2014 General Election the National-led Government is delivering on our commitment to help all New Zealanders get ahead. Our careful management of the books has given us the opportunity to introduce a number of new policies that are making a difference to Kiwis from all walks of life.
We are helping New Zealand families by extending free doctor’s visits and prescriptions to children 13 years and under which will benefit more than 750,000 children across the country. We have also increased paid parental leave payments and paid parental leave to 16 weeks, saved families up to $135 a year by reducing ACC levies on motor vehicles, and been the first Government in more than 40 years to increase benefit payments to the lowest income families, all in an effort to help Kiwi families get ahead.
We are helping young New Zealanders into their first home through our Home Start programme, which gives eligible couples access to Government grants of up to $20,000, and by working with local councils to free up more land faster through Housing Accords. We are ensuring every child gets a great education, by investing more than ever before in education. We’re also helping to keep the best teachers in the classroom and share expertise across schools to lift student achievement.
We are continuing to invest heavily in health with a record $15.9 billion being spent next year. We have improved access to elective surgeries, with thousands more New Zealanders now receiving elective surgery each year, while also spending more on hospice and palliative care.
Kiwis are also benefiting from an economy which is continuing to grow. There have been over 49,000 new jobs created in the nine months to June 2015 and the average wage has increased by $1500. We are continuing to back businesses by rolling out ultra-fast broadband, investing in infrastructure and in research and development, and negotiating free trade deals, such as the TPP. This Government also remains firmly focused on rebuilding Christchurch where we have achieved some important goals including the completion the first of the anchor projects, completed the repairs of 75 per cent of key infrastructure such as roads and bridges, as well as making good progress on the repair of red zone properties.
I look forward to continuing to implement new policies that will help make New Zealand a great place to live, work and raise a family.