Making Progress On Important Issues

PM-Headshot-20115-300x267Prime Minister Column Weekly Column

The National-led Government is making good progress on important issues that matter to New Zealanders and their families – the economy, health, education, and law and order. Achievement in our schools is continuing to rise. Latest data released last week shows the percentage of children achieving NCEA Level 2 last year reached 75.8 per cent – up 10 percentage points since 2008. That’s fantastic news – it means thousands more young people are leaving school every year with the skills and qualifications they need to succeed.

In health, New Zealanders are getting more elective surgeries, faster cancer treatment, and more children are getting immunised than ever before.In addition, around 780,000 children are benefitting from our free GP visits and prescriptions for under-13s, and B4 School Checks are ensuring more than 58,000 pre-schoolers across the country are receiving a range of free community health services before starting school. These better public services are made possible because of our careful management of the Government’s books and also because we’ve worked hard to ensure our economy is strong, resilient and growing.

New Zealand’s economy is performing well compared to other countries – we’re on track to continue to deliver ongoing wage rises and more job opportunities for Kiwis, with annual economic growth of around 3 per cent expected over the next five years. Faster, more reliable broadband is a key part of the National-led Government’s programme to drive innovation, create jobs, and grow New Zealand’s economy.

The latest figures show more New Zealanders than ever before are connecting to ultra-fast broadband. We’ve reached the halfway point in the eight-year project, with 60 per cent of the build complete. More than 875,000 households and businesses are now able to connect to ultra-fast broadband. In addition, almost 280,000 rural households and businesses can now access fixed wireless or improved fixed-line broadband.

We’re also continuing to crack down on crime – around 60,000 fewer crimes are being committed a year compared to five years ago and we now have the lowest crime rate since 1978. We’ve also passed new laws against cyber bullying and are doing more to help support victims of crime. These great results are a testament to the hard work of Police, and our education and health workers throughout New Zealand. The National-led Government will continue to work hard to maintain this momentum and to ensure New Zealand continues to be a great place to live, work and raise a family in.