27 January 2012
Key Notes: Outlining the Government’s priorities

In this edition of Key Notes, I outline the main features of the Government's priorities over the next few years.

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Happy New Year. I hope you had the opportunity to relax over the summer break and spend some time with your family and friends. It's good to be back at work after a relaxing holiday with my family. 

Building a brighter future
I was in Auckland yesterday where I delivered a speech outlining the Government's four main priorities over the next three years.  I also talked some more about our plan to build a brighter future for New Zealand.

We face an uncertain international environment.  The economic outlook across the world has deteriorated since last year and no-one can be certain how the crisis in Europe will play out.

We are expecting this to have an effect on New Zealand, as overseas markets demand less of our goods. But it won't knock New Zealand for six - we are in a good place to deal with any fallout in the near-term.  And it certainly won't stop the Government pushing ahead with our priorities.

Our four priorities over the next three years are to:

  • responsibly manage the Government's finances
  • build a more competitive and productive economy
  • deliver better public services
  • rebuild Christchurch.

Responsibly managing the Government's finances
In my speech I reaffirmed our commitment to return to budget surplus in 2014/15.  We're on track to reach this and the upcoming Budget Policy Statement will show a forecast surplus of $300 million to $500 million in the 2014/15 financial year.

Sticking to this responsible track is important because it will help keep the pressure off interest rates, which are the single biggest cost to most households, and the exchange rate, which is good for exporters.

Building a more competitive and productive economy
I also talked about how Government will help businesses operate more efficiently on the world stage. 

During the election campaign we released a 120-point economic action plan.  Much of this work is following through on progress made in our previous term.  Our action plan shows how we are going to be pursuing a more competitive economy over the course of the next few years, and we have a busy agenda in the year ahead.

Better Public Services
All New Zealanders rely on the public services provided by Government, whether it's health services, education, welfare, or the justice system.  Better public services improve the lives and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

We're going to ensure that we deliver on our priorities in these areas.  In education we remain committed to lifting achievement, particularly for those students who have historically underperformed.

Welfare reform is also a major priority for Government over coming years, and we'll be introducing legislation to Parliament shortly to enact some of our welfare changes.

Rebuilding Canterbury
Our final priority is to get on with the rebuild of Christchurch.  We can all be proud of the way Cantabrians have handled the past 12 months. They continue to show their strength and resolute nature.

A lot of the demolition in the CBD has already taken place.  In 2012 we want to see some real progress with the rebuilding of our second-largest city. We are totally committed to the reconstruction of Canterbury and I'm determined to see that momentum is maintained.

From my diary
This weekend I'm off to Melbourne, along with seven of my Cabinet Ministers. We're attending our annual meeting with the Australian Government.  The opportunity for two Prime Ministers and seven Ministers from each side of the Tasman to share ideas on the challenges we face is extremely valuable.

The following weekend I'll be making my way to Waitangi to attend annual events with other Ministers.  Over the next couple of weeks I'm also looking forward to attending events to celebrate the Chinese and Korean New Year.  It's the year of the Dragon, which is said to bring happiness, strength and wisdom.  All the best for 2012.

Best wishes,

John Key
Prime Minister

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#1 - president oryan said:
2012-01-27 17:18 - (Reply)

What about importers? every government always fails to accommodate us importers. We want the currency to increase so we have cheaper buying power over seas.

#2 - James Parker 2012-01-27 18:16 - (Reply)

Hi John, I am writing to you about two things... Food for children at school without lunch. I am the Deputy Principal at our school and work closely with the social worker in school to best deal with some children and families. The support we get from the SWIS(social worker in school) person is great.It gives us the support we need. Our school feeds children without lunch. We do it because the children are hungry, and it stops them stealing others students lunches. It also goes a long way to helping them learn. Especially when our targets now have to be that ALL children are to be achieving at or above the national standards etc ect. They can't do this with empty puku. I contact parents when we give their children lunch. I encourage systems and routines to ensure they get lunch/breakfast. Many people blame the government ( it's the easiest way ) but I do not think this is a government problem. As a community we need to look a bit closer to home. If problems persist we call in the SWIS worker. But we still feed students, every day.....funded or not.... If there was a set process schools could follow I wonder if a small amount of funding could be made available. Some for sandwiches, but mostly to train parents in lower decile school communities how to organise themselves and their children better. Not sure who reads these.... It makes sense to us. Kind regards, we know your job is tough. James

#3 - Ian walker 2012-01-27 18:27 - (Reply)

Well done john, my full support. Auckland Port. Re-establish as No 1. Port, ONEHUNGA?. Best wishes. Ian Walker. Auckland.

#4 - Edwin Muir 2012-01-27 19:34 - (Reply)

All good PM but for this letdown. It's the year of the Dragon, which is said to bring happiness, strength and wisdom. All the best for 2012.Seeding the superstition which hurts the vunerable Young minds I befriend daily."I belong to the Dragon,thats where I get my strength." A sincere proffessional told me recently.Spending inordinate money on charms meanwhile. Patronising is a part of deceitful pride used to control the masses historically. I was given the history of the dragon and festivals by a chinese just this week while in China. The Origin of Chinese New Year The Chinese New Year is now popularly known as the Spring Festival because it starts from the Begining of Spring (the first of the twenty-four terms in coodination with the changes of Nature). Its origin is too old to be traced. Several explanations are hanging around. All agree, however, that the word Nian, which in modern Chinese solely means "year", was originally the name of a monster beast that started to prey on people the night before the beginning of a new year. One legend goes that the beast Nian had a very big mouth that would swallow a great many people with one bite. People were very scared. One day, an old man came to their rescue, offering to subdue Nian. To Nian he said, "I hear say that you are very capable, but can you swallow the other beasts of prey on earth instead of people who are by no means of your worthy opponents?" So, it did swallow many of the beasts of prey on earth that also harrassed people and their domestic animals from time to time. After that, the old man disappeared riding the beast Nian. He turned out to be an immortal god. Now that Nian is gone and other beasts of prey are also scared into forests, people begin to enjoy their peaceful life. Before the old man left, he had told people to put up red paper decorations on their windows and doors at each year's end to scare away Nian in case it sneaked back again, because red is the color the beast feared the most. From then on, the tradition of observing the conquest of Nian is carried on from generation to generation. The term "Guo Nian", which may mean "Survive the Nian" becomes today "Celebrate the (New) Year" as the word "guo" in Chinese having both the meaning of "pass-over" and "observe". The custom of putting up red paper and firing fire-crackers to scare away Nian should it have a chance to run loose is still around. However, people today have long forgotten why they are doing all this, except that they feel the color and the sound add to the excitement of the celebration. Integrity will boost our economy not sowing patronising superstitious seeds. Lets not kid ourselves.

#5 - Michael Tierney 2012-01-27 21:43 - (Reply)

The government should seriously consider replacing the Chch council with an appointed board that will progress the rebuilding of the city. Chch needs to understand that their parochial infighting is thwarting a recovery that is funded by all NZ. If they cannot get their act together, then the council should be abolished.

#6 - Jill Hawthorne 2012-01-28 06:44 - (Reply)

Dear John As a long time labour supporter I converted to national a few elections back as I was sick of labour curing all problems by shaking the money tree.I am becoming more and more convinced that a lot of the problems we face as a nation such as child abuse,domestic violence, and the recession in general are due to allowing house prices to inflate to a ridiculous level, where we now have some of the most unaffordable housing in the world. Once a family has paid the rent or mortgage there is no money left for much else, and most of this money goes to an Australian bank.When I was a child, mum would either meet me from school or be in the kitchen preparing a meal when I got home,now mothers are still at work and return home exhausted to rush to do all the household chores in the evening.Mothers are the 'glue' that holds a family together but tired people easily lose their temper and getting tomorrows lunch for the kids may be one job too many.May I suggest that in each area of especially Auckland we build some state houses.These can be cheaply rented to low income families inspected regularly and if not looked after move out and let someone else have the opportunity. Such a building program would provide some work for the depressed building industry and a boost to the economy. Another huge problem I see on the horizon is that all the people now renting because they cant afford to buy will retire with no assets and no opportunity to downsize.This is going to place an even greater strain on the social welfare budget when they present for financial assistance. May I also suggest as an older worker that with the increasing numbers of managers that each company now has, we are becoming less and less productive. If we turned the clock back a couple of decades we might be much happier.

#7 - John Buckwell 2012-01-28 09:09 - (Reply)

Lots of good ideas in the 120 point plan. How about taking the Flexible Working Conditions one step further and encourage employers to offer remote working / telecommuting? The advantages to the nation include: Reduced load on transport networks Reduced carbon emissions Employment opportunities for rural areas Employment opportunities for single parents with young children at home Increased value from the new high speed broadband

#8 - Jim Shand 2012-01-28 10:06 - (Reply)

Congratulations on the Crafar Farms sale but please stop playing politics with Fonterra.

#9 - Torben Windelov said:
2012-01-28 11:21 - (Reply)

To John Key and NZ Government in general, I know I will not get a reply to this, so why do I write? darn if I know! NZ Superannuation, how can I claim the tax I pay on my superannuation??? I do not know if ANY member of the government can live on the "Super" ( $511.06 for 2 people per week) if they do not have their owe house and have to pay $ 300 rent a week? Yes I know we could shift to another town, but do you really want to live in the middle of e.i. the North Island, if you have lived close to the coast for most of your life? Kind regards, Torben Windelov,Whitianga

#10 - RussF 2012-01-28 11:34 - (Reply)

Dear John, You state that "Welfare reform is also a major priority for Government over coming years, and we'll be introducing legislation to Parliament shortly to enact some of our welfare changes." You will agree that when times are tough due to recession, welfare is always going to prove essential to many at significant cost to the country. What annoys the wage earners who fund welfare through taxes, is that so many beneficiaries cannot be trusted to be 'responsible citizens' and become lazy and dependent on a welfare system that has significant failings. While the 'welfare trap' is an evil in itself it is the disparity between the well publicized 'irresponsible taker' who abuses welfare and the rather unsung 'responsible contributor' who is prepared to erode their own savings before giving reliance to welfare as a means of avoiding falling into the welfare trap themselves. A Welfare System that readily recognizes an initial savings survival contribution through future tax rebates against future income, say across say a three year or five year maximum claim period, might encourage more to be responsible when tough times exist. It might also allow the government to fairly asset test the irresponsible takers and encourage them to first evidence a self survival period on savings and redundancy payments before applying for welfare support. It might even achieve in keeping up to 10% off the dole and provide a significant saving for government expenditure and speedier return to balance of payments surplus. The cost to government is a manageable future reduction in tax income hopefully during a period of economic stability and surplus. I do hope you get to read this and seriously consider what I am promoting. And yes I am speaking from the personal experience of a 'responsible contributor' desiring to avoid the the welfare trap. The way welfare is managed at present many would say I was the fool not to have signed up for welfare immediately I was eligible, but having been there and done that I prefer to maintain some self respect while trying my best to find the right job and achieve a stable future income. Acceptability to employers is not easy for those between 50 and 65, but that is an 'age discrimination' topic that your government also need to address with a national campaign of encouraging employers to hire aged workers with respect. Perhaps they are as deserving the same wage subsidy welfare programs that are available for encouraging youth employment? Russ F Auckland

#11 - p anticich 2012-01-28 11:46 - (Reply)

Mr Key I suggest you be very careful what Nick Smith or any other member of the Govt says in christchurch as chch people are well and truly over this council with the pressure on and Marriot and Parker growing every day. They dig a deeper hole everytime they make another false statement It is the best demonstation of pressure by democratic process I have seen in 20 years. Their secrecy, shady deals and PR spin is not working , Dealing with the the city council in most areas is difficult as the entire culture is one of confrontation and contempt try getting a consent for a house, business or a commercial building .The people of chch will not accept glib statements by politicians that all is and will be ok We are way past that point in this town !!All chch people want these two to do is resign.I will certainly be protesting outside the City Council chambers as I hope thousands will be there

#12 - Margaret Couillault 2012-01-28 17:26 - (Reply)

Hull Mr Key I have major concerns regarding people who deserve access to our health services, -- it is not happening. I am a Nurse Specialist, self employed, working in the area of with ear health/ disease. In Auckland in particular the public hospital ORL outpatient departments are full to overflowing, due to many reasons, but mainly lack of resources and staff. I have been in ORL for 30 years (23 in public)and am saddened by the reduction in funding for the services provided by the DHB's for early intervention of ear disease and hearing loss. We once had a good programme - those who cannot afford to pay are being tossed into the private sector and it is simply not fair to them. The likes of me are also being overloaded with demanding people - I cannot "help" everyone - and it will soon reach crisis point. I have written to the DHB and they are "looking into it" . Not good enough. We need to train more younger nurses in the area of ear health and start to provide the service as it once was. Nurses are valuable but I am not so sure the DHB sees it that way all the time. The funding is being channelled away from some departments. We do have poverty in Auckland - we know that - and I feel for those poor parents who need help and cannot get it. Not to mention the suffering of the child. Thank you

#13 - Leo Gambitsis 2012-01-28 23:04 - (Reply)

I as a resident of the Hutt South Electorate and a past electorate Treasurer of the electorate,i am disappointed again in your lack of priorities when it comes to roading in the Wellington area. My younger son was involved in a serious accident on Grays Road. This is one of many in recent years on that road yet we are forced to use substandard roads as compared with what our government is providing in Auckland. My son and granddaughter had to contend with a Ten+wheeler truck careering out of control on to their side of the narrow road and writing off his new Commodore. They were lucky as no one was seriously injured. Vehicles of that size should not be using that sort of road. My older son is a cicil engineer from Auckland was recently shocked at the way our roads have been neglected. Why are the Wellington roads not given priority ?? Three years have gone by when National promised to give the bypass priority status. Stop listening to the Greens and take some action. They are quite happy to sit in bumper to bumper traffic breathing in Carbon fumes. WE are not. Help us get quality candidates to oust these Labour diehards who had done nothing for us in the past.

#14 - Chris Senior 2012-01-29 12:22 - (Reply)

The following appeared in the Daily Telegraph - 28 Jan 2012 David Cameron: give shareholders vote to rein in executive pay David Cameron has threatened to bring in new laws later this year to rein in executive pay which he says has “ripped off” British shareholders. The Government is now preparing to introduce new rules which will force companies to provide detailed information on their executive’s pay. Shareholders will then have the legal right to veto excessive pay packages. Workers may also be given positions on company remuneration committees which agree executive pay packages. Mr Cameron also said that the Government was considering capping executive pay at a certain multiple of a companies’ average salary – although he said there were problems with such a draconian approach. Source: My question is - do we have this problem in New Zealand, and if so, what (if any) plans does the National Party have to do about it?

#15 - Paula Wagstaff 2012-01-30 13:20 - (Reply)

Is there ANY chance of IMMEDIATELY putting a law into effect that will fine a person/people who while protesting cause ANY public/private damage resulting in the tax dollar being used to repair. If the said persons have NO money, then appropriate community service be applied. Yes they can protest, but NO, I do not want my rent going up due to the thousands of $'s damamge they do, to OUR community. As their is a worldwide protest movement called form June, IO hope ths can be appllied by then and well publicised. Do you think all the taxpayers who had to fork out for the damage in the UK in the last riots, are now having public medicine restricted due to lack of funding/money.

#16 - G J Lupton 2012-01-30 13:28 - (Reply)

Dear Prime Minister, Overseas investment in New Zealand productive land is extremely unlikely to be able to add any productive value to that land or bring any relevant technology advances. The country of origin of the investment is not the issue. No off shore investor will be extremely unlikely to be able to bring technology that is not already available to the New Zealand farmer. New Zealand has a long history of scientists from McMeeken onwards who have studied the matching of grass growth with nutritional requirements of the animal to maximise the use of the New Zealand pasture. They are world experts. Selling that productive land to off shore investors may show as a capital input into New Zealand and a tax free capital gain for the vendor farmer but adds no value to the farming community, the society and the New Zealand economy. I strongly suggest that you and your parliament take steps to protect these productive assets. I would remind you of the legal protection Monsanto now has with seeds in the US and Canada. Because they own a patent on a genetic characteristic of a seed then under US and Canadian law they own the plant not the farmer who buys the seed and sells the grain. The last thing New Zealanders want is to be at the beck and call of corporations and off shore investors. I would urge caution. Kind regards, Graeme J Lupton

#17 - Jenny Gibson 2012-01-31 13:52 - (Reply)

Dear John, This term, is going to be one of the most crucial that the National Party have had to date. Although the 120 point plan is excellent it is time for some really bold moves that should be communicated well to the public. So far many people that I know are not going to vote for National again as they feel that your plans are not strong enough, particularly the welfare plans, and they are not communicated well to the public.

#18 - Frank J Cammock said:
2012-02-05 18:21 - (Reply)

Dear John, I am disappointed to see that your Maori advisers have let you down today at Waitangi. The paepae, outside the Meeting house, is the place where anger can properly take place. Many of your policies will obviously anger Maori - selling NZ assets overseas; drilling for oil with the danger to our ecology; increased unemployment and now, the suggestion of increasing class sizes. I am disappointed that you were unable to sit and really listen to what the protestors were saying - instead of feeling that you had to speak. You have many opportunities to promote your policies. The protestors do not.

#18.1 - NJPritchard 2012-02-06 11:50 - (Reply)

A treaty leadership challenge to the government's treaty leadership with clear communication, surely means hui and hapu leading up to this week's successful Waitangi Day, can be happy with PM/parliament and all New Zealanders. The way for all people is this.

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