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10 February 2012
Key Notes: Looking forward to the year ahead

In this edition of Key Notes I talk about our plans to strengthen the economy and the four priorities we've set to accomplish that.

Click here for more pictures of the Chinese New Year celebration at Parliament

Click here to view this photo gallery on Flickr

Looking forward to the year ahead

Parliament resumed this week for 2012, and it's going to be another very busy year for the National-led Government.  We have a full legislative programme as we press on with our plan to Build a Brighter Future. 

A stronger economy
The next three years will be about strengthening our economy. Despite ongoing global uncertainty, we are in a good position compared with many other nations.

As I outlined a fortnight ago, we've got four key priorities for our second term in Government.  These are:

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

We're working hard to create a platform for stronger economic growth to help our businesses to grow, and hire more staff.  The fall in unemployment to 6.3 per cent is evidence the economy is heading in the right direction. This is encouraging given the challenges the country has had to face over the past few years with the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury Earthquakes.

In 2012 we'll be delivering on our 120-point economic development action plan, which I released during the election campaign.  Our plan is about taking New Zealand forward so businesses can grow and compete in the global marketplace. A number of the steps in our plan are already complete, and this year we're going to make further progress across the economy.

Reducing debt through mixed ownership
We're also working hard to reduce the level of debt New Zealand owes to foreign lenders.  That's one of the reasons we're extending mixed ownership to four state-owned energy companies, and Air New Zealand.  We'll keep a majority share in each company - at least 51 per cent - and New Zealand investors will be at the front of the queue for shares.

Mixed ownership will free up $5 billion to $7 billion, which we can use to buy new assets like schools, without having to borrow more from offshore lenders.

This is a smart policy that will strengthen New Zealand's economy and help get us out of debt faster.  We're working hard to get out of debt because we don't want to end up in the same situation as many European countries.  Getting out of debt faster will help us build a stronger economy with more jobs, higher incomes, and the high-quality public services that you and your family need.

Boosting links with China
Last week I launched the Government's China strategy to help build on our already strong relationship with China.  The strategy sets out ambitious medium term goals towards our target of doubling two-way trade between our countries from $10 billion to $20 billion by 2015.  China is an important market for New Zealand exporters.  We're working hard to help our businesses tap into the enormous potential of China.

It is fitting that I launched this strategy during Chinese New Year celebrations and as we mark 40 years of diplomatic relations with China.  The strength of our relationship is underpinned by our vibrant Chinese community, who make a valuable contribution to New Zealand.

Green paper on vulnerable children
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has been busy meeting communities throughout New Zealand to get their views on the Green Paper for vulnerable children.  The Green Paper outlines a number of ideas to help prevent child abuse in our country.  Submissions close on February 28, so make sure you have your say at http://www.childrensactionplan.govt.nz/

Health targets updated
National's successful health targets have been updated to better reflect a focus on preventive health care.  We're changing our child immunisation target so that 95 per cent of eight month old children receive their scheduled vaccinations by the end of 2014.  We are working hard to protect our youngest children when they are most vulnerable.

There's also a new health target of "More heart and diabetes checks" - which is a commitment we made to New Zealanders at the election.  Health Minister Tony Ryall has also announced that we're strengthening the cancer treatment target by including chemotherapy to the Shorter Waits for Cancer target.  From 1 July this year, all cancer patients ready for radiation or chemotherapy treatment should begin this within four weeks.

From my diary
This week I celebrated the Chinese New Year at Parliament.  It was a great opportunity to officially welcome the Year of the Dragon.

I also attended the annual Halberg Awards in Auckland, which was a great evening celebrating our elite sportspeople.  2011 was a big year for New Zealand sport, and I'd like to congratulate all the winners of Halberg Awards.

Next week I'm heading back to Wellington for another busy week in Parliament.

Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister


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#1 - narena said:
2012-02-10 17:10 - (Reply)

If the returns on the power companies is 20% and government is borrowing at 5% ???? I don't get it.

#2 - David Perry said:
2012-02-10 17:43 - (Reply)

Please say NO to silly Maori demands such as Waterways etc.

#3 - Cheyne 2012-02-10 18:35 - (Reply)

I am a bit suprised there is no mention of Waitangi day, and how we can improve our National day of Celebration for all New Zealanders in future years.

#4 - Jane Motu said:
2012-02-10 19:03 - (Reply)

I fail to see how selling off our power companies will reduce debt when the returns are 20%. The price of power is ging up already, to pay for maitenance hat has not been done by the companies even govt owned!!. Adding to the debt of the poor taxayer again!! We are the mums and dads you expect to buy shares. May we ask with What?

#5 - Bernard Mannering 2012-02-10 19:57 - (Reply)

I notice no mention of Waitangi. I would like the govt to consider the holiday to be referred to as NZ Day. I am tired of the childish antics of a few indiginous peoples whose ancestors conceded their allegience to the crown. My ancestors who made valid legal decisions left me with very little recourse of a buy back 160+ years after the deal was concluded. Please advise these children the holiday is over and we are all Kiwis, race does not come into it We did not eat the previous occupiers of these lands, but have given these people a level of living they would never have attained today if left to their own devises. It is time for the Pakehas to recind the treaty it was designed for an era that has no bearing on today. Money given to the "tribes" could be better spent on health training and job creation without the sale of NZ owned assets. Please remember that these are not Govt Assets" They belong to each and every NZer, and the Maori do not own the water. Your comments will be appreciated yours sincerely Bernard

#6 - K Ferguson 2012-02-10 21:17 - (Reply)

Selling off part of our state assets to share holders so that shareholders can make money will at the end of the day add cost to the consumer. We as New Zealand's have paid for the likes of Electrical Generation and should remain as a state owned operation only. If it is to make any money it should go back into improving its own operation and not supporting the wealthy share buyers.

#6.1 - Ken Keall said:
2012-02-11 10:24 - (Reply)

I agree, and I insist, we already own the 'state assets' and the Government has absolutely no legal right to sell me something I already own, thanks to my grandparents and their parents. John Key you are an ass.

#7 - Allan Ong 2012-02-10 21:52 - (Reply)

You're on the right track Mr Prime Minister. However for building a competitive and stronger New Zealand economy, I still find this wishy washy, with little coherent economic master plan, which a) outlines the key strategic sectors of industry which New Zealand has particular national strategic strength and advantage, b) specific programmes and policies which will promote these sectors, including the acquisition of technologies and co-operation with global leaders of the identified sectors including attracting strategic FDIs, the development of key supportive industry clusters, research and investment incentives, and skills development and acquisition. c) The matter of funding this master plan, including the strategic planned exploitation of natural resouces, especially a policy on the mining of new petroleum reserves in New Zealand, which will be a great opportunity to strategically tie in mining concessions with parties who are able to progress the strategic economic thrust of the country

#8 - Paul Walter Kaiser 2012-02-10 22:31 - (Reply)

Dear John Key I have been for some years watching and listening to the demands some Maori People are making on us 'non indigenous' people, claiming proprietary rights over coastlines, rivers air and lately water. Could I suggest that your Government accedes to these 'proprietary' rights under the general terms that Maori have been on this land before us and have proprietary rights. That said, so have we. Our proprietary rights are as general as theirs, but stem from our civilization be that Austrian, English, Italian, American or any people who have developed Radio, Automobiles, Telescopes, Electricity..........in short all innovations Maori enjoy as long as they grant us the proprietary rights in the same manner as they demand from us. If Maori wish to extract atoll for water, air, rivers etc we can reciprocate with a Universal Technology Toll. There you are, problem solved! What do you think?

#8.1 - bruce somerville 2012-02-13 14:28 - (Reply)

good thinking Paul. The same goes for spiritual values. Some Maori have the delusion that they have a proprietary right over the spirituality of the flora & fauna, --the animals & fish. Well- no they don't. A case in point was shown on the '60 Minutes' TV programme on sunday night. It showed the work of Dr Ingrid Viser in researching the ORCA around our coasts. Footage regarding a dead ORCA washed up on a beach showed a tohunga pronouncing a eulogy over the body. Good to show the respect that we all feel. But then he took it upon himself to deny DR Viser from performing the work she is doing to protect the Orca. Any rational thinking Orca would gladly permit its body parts to be scientifically examined if it would lead to the better survival of it's descendants.Especially when they are close to extinction. Crown ownersip of the foreshore & seabed would mean that decisions & actions about such matters would be made by properly appointed representitives of all the people, not a tribal based minority. TIME TO RESCIND THE TREATY.

#9 - julia 2012-02-10 22:37 - (Reply)

I agree with Narena. Why sell such a good investment and also the natural resources of New Zealand. Doesn't make sense. sell Air New Zealand sure but not the power companies and their assets.

#10 - Drake 2012-02-11 00:30 - (Reply)

Hang in there Sir John Key, A leader will alway's get the blame but if it's the right thing to do? and it needs to be done! then someone needs to do it! Banks told me that more than 18 years ago!

#11 - Willem Nel 2012-02-11 03:23 - (Reply)

If one applies for superannuation, the time that was spent on overseas holidays in the past ten years is added to the super date, even though you are a citizen and work and pay taxes in NZ. Why are we punished for taking overseas holidays?

#12 - Dianne 2012-02-11 06:13 - (Reply)

All the best John, you and your ministers are doing a great job, towards a brighter and better NZ.

#13 - brian duncan 2012-02-11 09:46 - (Reply)

Dear Prime Minister I wish to voice my strong disapproval at the way the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act was passed through Parliament under urgency and with no public consultation. I had always thought the openess of your party and policies would never have allowed such a covert action. All coastal areas should remain in the full control of the Crown.

#14 - Don 2012-02-11 12:40 - (Reply)

Paula Bennett needs to be aware that many parents do not seem to be aware that the children they give birth to are not puppies or kittens and are not self sufficient at 3 months. They do not understand the language and cannot make decisions or even think logically. So, how will she get this message across, or perhaps, she does not see this problem becoming entrenched in segments of society.

#15 - John Chant said:
2012-02-11 13:11 - (Reply)

In view of the tragedy being wrought on the Syrian people and the vetoes of both Russia and China in the United Nations we should have the intestinal fortitude to tell these countries that we will no longer treat with them until they withdraw their vetoes.

#16 - Warwick White 2012-02-11 17:26 - (Reply)

Regard to the Treaty of Waitnagi should not be included in the partial privitisation of govt assets sales. With the generous settlements they have had they can apply to take up shares just like any other NZ invester


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