Prime Minister Weekly Column
Last week marked seven years since National was elected to Government. We’ve been busy since day one, delivering practical results that are making a positive difference to the lives of New Zealanders and their families. We have achieved a lot over the past seven years but there’s still so much more we want, and need, to do. We’re focused, energised, and full of ideas. Among the things we’ve done is turned the books around through our responsible economic management. We achieved our target of returning to surplus in 2014/15 and have overseen a growing economy that’s supporting more jobs, higher incomes, and positive household savings.
We’ve negotiated major free trade agreements to help open up markets for New Zealand exporters and businesses, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This means we now have free trade relationships with our top five trading partners – Australia, China, Korea, the United States and Japan. We’ve also recently announced a commitment to progress free…. trade negotiations with the European Union. We’re investing record amounts into health and education – over $25 billion a year – and are delivering 50,000 more elective operations a year than in 2008. We’ve also invested $19 billion into New Zealand’s road network, including delivering major new roading projects in our main cities and key regional centres, as well as building new cycleways.
We’re the first Government to raise benefits rates in 43 years to help families living in hardship. We’ve also insulated around 300,000 houses up and down the country – making them warmer, drier and healthier for the families who live in them. We’ve created 13 marine reserves and the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, which covers an area twice the size of New Zealand’s landmass, or is about the size of France. We are helping children get the best start in life by increasing paid parental leave, providing free doctor’s visits and prescriptions for children aged under 13, and through better education.We’re supporting businesses and households through lower ACC levies, faster broadband, cutting red tape, and investing in science and innovation.
These are just some of the highlights and we’ve got much more we want to do. I am lucky enough to have both a Cabinet and a Caucus full of new and exciting ideas to help continue making New Zealand a great place to live, work, and raise a family in. We will continue to work hard every day that we have the privilege of governing this country.