Prime Minister Weekly Column
Last week, the heart of my electorate of Helensville was struck by a thunderstorm and tornado. Tragically, three men lost their lives, and my thoughts and condolences go out to their families and friends at this difficult time. On Friday I visited the area and received a briefing from emergency services. The emergency services did an outstanding job in dangerous and difficult circumstances and I thank …….. them for their hard work.
This week is the last week Parliament is sitting before Christmas break. It’s a time to take stock of the achievements of the past year, and to look ahead to the future.
National has been getting on with our plan to take New Zealand forward. We’re building a more competitive and productive economy, responsibly managing the government’s finances, delivering better public services, and rebuilding Christchurch. And we are seeing results. Our economy is growing at 2.6 per cent – better than many other developed countries.
The cost of living is rising by less than 1 per cent – the lowest in 13 years – and interest rates are at 45-year lows, saving a family with a $200,000 mortgage about $200 a week in repayments, compared to four years ago.
We have set a track back to surplus in 2014/15, when we can start repaying debt, reducing New Zealand’s vulnerability to overseas lenders, and building a buffer against future global shocks.
We’re investing heavily in infrastructure, including state highways, ultra-fast broadband, and the electricity grid. This is clearing the arteries of growth and creating thousands of significant jobs.
At the same time our Business Growth Agenda spanning exports, innovation, infrastructure, skills and safe workplaces, natural resources, and capital markets is helping businesses get on with the job of competing globally.
National is delivering better public services and focusing on results – such as reducing crime, long-term welfare dependency,and educational under-achievement– while supporting families in need.
The Christchurch rebuild is ramping up and all 190,000 residential properties in greater Christchurch now have a zoning which gives their owners the ability to move on with their lives.
I’m looking forward to another busy year as we focus on the issues that matter for our community, and for all Kiwis – a stronger economy and more jobs, better frontline health and education services, a safer New Zealand, and rebuilding Canterbury.
I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.