27 April 2012
Progress towards our plan for a Brighter Future
In this edition of Key Notes, I talk about my recent visits to Indonesia and Singapore, the larger effort to promote NZ 'Inc' overseas, the upcoming budget as a reflection of our priorities, Anzac Day - and a few things from my diary.
Visiting Indonesia and Singapore
Last week I was in Indonesia and Singapore working to grow our economic and other opportunities in the region.
One of National's four main priorities for this term of Government is to build a more competitive and productive economy. That's why it's important to help give Kiwi companies a strong platform to compete on the world stage. We want to get our economy into a strong position where we're selling more to the world than we buy back. Making connections in fast-growing countries is one of the ways we can achieve this.
Promoting NZ 'Inc'
I wasn't the only member of Government overseas promoting New Zealand's trade and business opportunities in recent weeks.
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English led a high-level delegation of senior Ministers to Australia for the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum. Next year will mark 30 years of the Closer Economic Relationship (CER) free-trade agreement between our two countries. Australia is our closest neighbour and our most important partner. We want to take this already close relationship with Australia to even greater heights in coming years.
Delivering on our priorities
On 24 May we'll deliver our fourth Budget. The Cabinet has been busy putting together the Budget, which will strike a balance between investing in New Zealand's future, protecting our most vulnerable, and getting the Government's finances back in order.
Our plan for a brighter future also focuses on some priority areas, such as supporting our families. Raising a family is one of the most important jobs many of us will do. This is why we've been working really hard to deliver better results for Kiwi families over the past three years.
We've targeted support to areas where we can make a difference. For example, our $1.4 billion investment in early childhood education has seen participation rates increase. That means more kids are getting the chance to attend ECE, which helps set them up for a better start to their education.
We want to ensure our kids have access to the healthcare they need, including free immunisation services. We're very close to hitting our target of having 95 per cent of all under twos immunised with three scheduled vaccinations. From July we're resetting that target to ensure 95 per cent of all eight-month-old kids get their three vaccinations on time.
Another area where we've maintained support, despite tough economic circumstances, is through Working for Families payments. On 1 April these payments were adjusted by 5 per cent, meaning higher payments for most Kiwi families.
Remembering our Anzacs
It was an honour to commemorate Anzac Day at the Dawn Service in Auckland and the National Service in Wellington. It was great to see such a large turnout of all generations at Anzac ceremonies across the country.
Anzac Day is a time when Kiwis around the world pause and pay tribute to the thousands of brave New Zealanders who left their homes and families to fight for the freedom, peace and democracy that we're proud to uphold today.
From my diary
I'm heading to Dunedin tomorrow. We're kicking off the first of the National Party conferences, with the Mainland event. It'll be a great chance to touch base with our hard working Southern supporters and update them on our progress towards a brighter future.