In election year, National is busy delivering a clear plan for our country’s future so New Zealanders can have continued confidence that the country will be led well, should we be returned to Government on 23 September.
We started the year with a strong decision to increase police staff and make our communities safer. We sent in place a bold international trade agenda, and we made a decision to extend ultra-fast broadband to a further 151 towns, which includes Opunake, Okato and Waitara in the New Plymouth Electorate. All great decisions that could only be made because the country’s books are now in surplus.
In Budget 2017 we rolled out a raft of policies to improve public services, invest in the infrastructure needed for a growing country, reduce debt, and share the benefits of growth by lifting family incomes. We’ve seen the minimum wage increase every year, benefits to families’ increase, and an hourly wage increase for care workers.
In just the past week our Ministers have been around the regions announcing initiatives to support growth. We’ve laid out a $1 billion housing infrastructure fund which will speed up the building of 60,000 houses across our fastest growing population centres.
We’ve put in place a $50 million wrap-around support to get our most at-risk youth into work in regional New Zealand.
We’ve developed regional action plans across the country in partnership with local government and businesses, to lift economic growth. Here in Taranaki we are nearing completion of our Regional Economic Development Strategy which is led by the four Councils in Taranaki. This plan will outline where our strengths are, our areas of opportunities, and plans for how we can grow our regional economy. Businesses are integral to this, as it is businesses who create economic growth and businesses who employ people, not local councils. Let’s not forget that. Check out the progress at www.makeway.co.nz.
The good news is regional New Zealand is doing well. There are thousands of jobs to be filled. In fact many regions have a shortage of workers. There hasn’t been a better opportunity in decades to match unemployed young people with real jobs in our regions.
We’re also supporting the regions by investing in the infrastructure they need to grow. Better roads and ultrafast broadband are some of the essentials. We’re continuing to roll out a $212 million programme for 13 important regional roading projects across New Zealand, including $135 million for the SH3 improvements including Awakino & Mt Messenger bypass, which every person in Taranaki will appreciate and say ‘about time!’
Taranaki is feeling more and more positive after a few difficult years when the milk and oil prices headed south for far too long. Things are looking up and I know when we will be totally on top. It’s when we beat Waikato on Saturday 19 August, 5pm at Yarrow Stadium. Go the Naki! See you there!