Our first year through

The Northland Age - - Local Life / Opinion - Hon Win­ston Peters MP

Our first an­niver­sary as a coali­tion gov­ern­ment passed last week, and one year on we can say that this gov­ern­ment is one with fresh think­ing, en­ergy, and a de­ter­mi­na­tion to im­prove the lives of ev­ery­day Ki­wis.

New Zealand First recog­nised that many North­landers were strug­gling to make ends meet, that es­sen­tial in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices were crum­bling in the face of chronic un­der­fund­ing, and that some com­mu­ni­ties no longer felt safe. They felt the re­gion had lost out to in­vest­ment in the big cities and in big busi­ness.

A year in, we are se­ri­ously fo­cused on solv­ing those prob­lems. We set an am­bi­tious agenda for ac­tion, and we are work­ing tire­lessly to pro­vide the pos­i­tive out­comes all would like to see.

Our fo­cus has been on restor­ing lost ca­pac­ity in pub­lic ser­vices like health, ed­u­ca­tion and hous­ing, re­gen­er­at­ing the re­gions and re­gain­ing our re­spected voice in the world. We are ad­dress­ing the deficits in pub­lic ser­vices spend­ing left be­hind by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, and en­sur­ing North­land fam­i­lies are healthy, well-housed and well-ed­u­cated.

We in­her­ited a pub­lic health­care in­fra­struc­ture in ruin, but we’re aim­ing to turn that around. This year’s bud­get set aside a record $750 mil­lion as a first step to re­build­ing hospi­tals. Whangārei Hos­pi­tal’s $24m up­grade and the $14m Bay of Is­lands Hos­pi­tal re­de­vel­op­ment will en­sure proper health­care is de­liv­ered.

We’ve made 180 more pub­lic hous­ing places in North­land; we’ve an­nounced in­vest­ment of around $10m for 10 class­rooms at three schools in Tai Tok­erau to sup­port grow­ing rolls — just the start.

North­land is get­ting a 25 per cent boost in po­lice num­bers. We read your let­ters and lis­tened to you speak of dairy rob­beries, youth of­fend­ers, and un­der­staffed or closed po­lice sta­tions, and knew some­thing had to be done.

To date more than $80 mil­lion from the Pro­vin­cial Growth Fund has been ear­marked for North­land, for projects to im­prove re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity through rail, air, road and sea links, to in­crease tourism po­ten­tial, en­hance the re­gion’s forestry in­dus­try, and de­velop busi­ness cases for fu­ture projects that will de­liver se­ri­ous eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for North­land.

New Zealand First is proud to be part of a gov­ern­ment with a re­gional fo­cus, one that recog­nises the eco­nomic po­ten­tial wait­ing to be un­locked in North­land, and is do­ing some­thing about it.

We have in­creased the min­i­mum wage to en­sure fair pay for a fair day’s work, and re­tained 90-day tri­als for SMEs.

We have in­tro­duced pro­grammes for long-term unem­ployed to im­prove work readi­ness, and help em­ploy­ers give young peo­ple a chance. We in­tro­duced a win­ter en­ergy pay­ment to help se­nior cit­i­zens cope with their win­ter power bills and a Fam­i­lies Pack­age to help our most vul­ner­a­ble.

We will con­tinue to take our com­mon sense ap­proach to ne­go­ti­ate bal­anced pol­icy out­comes for the ben­e­fit of New Zealan­ders.

"New Zealand First is proud to be part of a gov­ern­ment with a re­gional fo­cus, one that recog­nises the eco­nomic po­ten­tial wait­ing to be un­locked in North­land, and is do­ing some­thing about it. "

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