Press Release – New Zealand National Party
The approaching end of any year always offers an opportunity to look back and take stock of the previous 12 months. This stocktake produces both a list of achievements and provides a reason for that end-of-year tiredness and anticipation of a summer …In Focus: 16 December 2015
Hon Jo Goodhew
MP for Rangitata
Looking Back and Taking Stock
The approaching end of any year always offers an opportunity to look back and take stock of the previous 12 months. This stocktake produces both a list of achievements and provides a reason for that end-of-year tiredness and anticipation of a summer break.
This last year has been no different from most for me in that it has been very busy. A look through my diary produces an overview of my year both in the electorate but also in Parliament and as a Minister.
Electorate work has been as always a very satisfying part of my job as MP. I have attended numerous events throughout the electorate, many of which stood out as being special this year. These include celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Red Cross, the opening of the Ashburton Art Gallery and Heritage Centre, the opening of the EA Networks Centre in Ashburton, attending the Trustpower Community Awards in both Timaru and Ashburton, White Ribbon events, two Fire Service Gold Star presentations, Children’s Day and celebrating the completion of the UFB rollout in both Timaru and Ashburton. This year also saw a focus on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings on Anzac Day.
Constituent work in the electorate has been busy too with my staff telling me that between the Timaru and Ashburton offices we opened about 300 case files. Some of these are resolved quickly while others are complex, challenging and time-consuming. It is always a good feeling to have been able to help someone with an issue they are facing.
My determination to get out and about in the electorate, meet people and hear of the issues that affect them has resulted in 36 appointments with community leaders, 17 visits to schools and my hosting 11 seniors’ meetings. I also attended five A&P shows, including Canterbury, and hosted six visiting MPs in the electorate and seven Ministers, including the Prime Minister.
One of the real pleasures of my job is congratulating those who celebrate 100th birthdays or significant wedding anniversaries. This year I have written to or visited eight people who have celebrated 100 years, or more, birthdays including a 107 year old and 105 year old. I have also written to 33 couples celebrating 60th wedding anniversaries and four celebrating 65th anniversaries.
A Government delivering for all New Zealanders
As we look back over the past year, I am proud of what this Government has achieved.
120 bills have passed into law, including KiwiSaver HomeStart legislation reflecting the Government’s commitment to help more than 90,000 Kiwi families into their first home.
After a slow start to the year, the economy is performing solidly with a positive outlook in the coming years. Jobs and wages are growing – 34,000 new jobs in the past year and wages growing considerably faster than the cost of living.
Reduced ACC levies, with more to come, are helping businesses and households, as is the roll out of ultra-fast broadband and investment of billions in roads, schools, and hospitals.
Businesses are confident and hiring more staff and more Kiwis are voting with their feet and either staying in New Zealand or coming home.
We’re continuing to see improved results from our public services in areas that really matter – such as better health care, lower crime, higher educational achievement, and more New Zealanders moving off welfare into work.
This year we got the Government’s books back into surplus, a target we set after the devastating Canterbury earthquakes and the global financial crisis. This is a significant milestone and one we can all take great pride in.
This year our free doctor visits and free prescriptions for children under 13 came into effect. We also extended paid parental leave this year and in 2016 Kiwi families will get another two weeks. We’re doing more to help children living in hardship, including increasing benefit rates for families with children by $25 a week – the first real increase in more than 40 years.
Record numbers of tourists are visiting New Zealand and spending more than ever before – around $9.4 billion a year.
We signed the Korean Free Trade Agreement and successfully concluded negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership – New Zealand’s biggest ever free trade deal – worth around $2.7 billion to our economy by 2030.
We’ll continue with a plan that’s working – responsibly managing the finances, building a more productive and competitive economy, delivering better public services, and supporting the rebuild of Christchurch.
Addressing skills shortages in dairy farming
Last Friday I attended and spoke at the launch of the Canterbury Farm Capability Society Group Employment and Training Scheme for farm workers at Aoraki Polytechnic’s primary industries training facility near Ashburton.
The scheme is a collaboration between Government and industry to address the skills shortages in dairy farming and increase employment opportunities for New Zealanders.
As part of the Business Growth Agenda, we are working closely with particular industries where there are not enough trained New Zealanders to fill the skill needs of that industry. This programme will provide young Kiwis with opportunities to get careers in one of New Zealand’s most important industries.
The group scheme is led by dairy farmers across Canterbury who have come together to form the Canterbury Farm Capability Society. It is supported by education providers such as Aoraki Polytechnic and Primary ITO, and by government agencies including the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).
The launch was marked by the successful graduation of the first group of trainees to complete the pre-employment training programme, ready to take on a career in the dairy industry.
The training programme, funded by MSD, consists of six weeks of classroom and practical on-farm work and a one-week placement on farms that belong to Society members.
Future stages of the Society’s work will include opening the group scheme up to school-leavers such as those taking the primary sector pathway of the Youth Guarantee as well as New Zealanders from other parts of New Zealand looking to start careers in the dairy sector, including MSD clients.
Electorate Offices over Christmas & New Year
Both my Rangitata Electorate offices in Timaru and Ashburton will close for the Christmas and New Year break at midday on Wednesday 23 December. The Timaru office will reopen on Monday 11 January with the Ashburton office opening a week later on Monday 18 January.
Over the holiday period an answer phone is available at both offices. Messages left will be cleared each day.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
My hope for you as we look forward to Christmas next week is that you get a chance to spend some time with family and friends as I will do. It is a great time to sit back a little, take a few deep breaths, reflect on the year that has been and to look forward to the opportunities a New Year brings.
If you have the opportunity to head to one of New Zealand’s best holiday spots I hope you will enjoy a safe and relaxing break. If you’re at home, I hope some time can be spent recharging your batteries.
I look forward to being in touch with you again next year.
MP for Rangitata