29 June 2012
Key Notes: Delivering better public services
On Monday, I announced the targets that I expect our public service to deliver for New Zealanders over the next five years. These targets are specific and measurable, which means we'll be able to show you how we're doing against each one. We'll report regularly on each of these, because we know how important it is that we're delivering against our promises.
Click here to watch the Better Public Services announcement
Each target falls within one of five areas. I've appointed a senior minister to lead each area, and together with department Chief Executives, they'll be held accountable for delivering results.
Some of these targets are very challenging. We've deliberately set the bar high. This won't be an exercise in checking boxes. Meeting these targets will be hard work, and it will require some long-term changes to the way we deliver public services.
That's why I've made delivering better public services within tight financial constraints one of my top priorities for this term in office.
Reducing welfare dependency
Too many Kiwis are stuck in the cycle of welfare dependency. Our welfare reforms, which are currently before Parliament, will shift the focus of our welfare system towards a better off in work approach. We are working hard to break the cycle of long-term welfare dependency.
I've set a specific target to reduce the number of people receiving Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months by 30 per cent by 2017. Jobseeker Support is a new benefit category that we'll be introducing in July 2013 to cover those currently on unemployment related benefits, the Sickness and Women Alone Benefits, as well as sole parents and widows whose youngest children are over 14.
Supporting vulnerable children
Another of our priority areas is better supporting vulnerable children. We have to do better for our youngest and most vulnerable kids - from ensuring they get the healthcare they need from a young age, to giving them a better start to their education through improved access to early childhood education.
I want to see more children immunised by the time they reach eight months old. I also want to reduce the number of children suffering from rheumatic fever. This is a third world disease that can have some long-term serious health effects, yet it is entirely preventable.
I am also committed to halting the rising rate of child abuse in New Zealand. We want to turn around the 10-year rise in the number of children experiencing physical abuse at the hands of those adults who are meant to protect them. We will reduce the number of children experiencing substantiated physical abuse by more than 1000 on projected numbers, by 2017.
Boosting skills and employment
When National came into office in 2008, too many young people weren't getting the skills they needed to succeed in the 21st century. We've turned this around, and brought a firm focus on quality courses and value for money in our tertiary education system.
National believes that a Level 2 qualification is the very minimum that our young people need to continue on to further education, find a job, and become productive members of our economy and society. By 2017, 85 per cent of 18-year-olds will have an NCEA Level 2, or equivalent, qualification.
At the higher tertiary level, we're focused on improving skills further, by setting a target that will see 55 per cent of 25-34 year olds with a qualification at Level 4 or above by 2017.
Since 2008, National has achieved some great results from our justice system. New Zealand currently has the lowest crime rate in 30 years, and there are more police on the beat. We're committed to keeping you safer at home and in our communities.
We've set targets to reduce the overall crime rate, reduce the rate of violent crime, and reduce the rate of youth crime. Achieving these three targets by 2017 will mean 45,000 fewer victims of crime each year, which will be a great achievement.
Another target that I'm setting under this umbrella is to reduce the rate of prisoner reoffending. New Zealand has relatively high rates of imprisonment and reoffending. If we can reduce the reoffending rate by 25 per cent, we will have 600 fewer prisoners every year by 2017, and the burden on taxpayer funds will be much less too.
Improving interaction with government
The final target area I've set for our public service is to make it easier and more cost-effective for Kiwis to engage with government. Government agencies provide a range of services to businesses and families, and the quality and speed of these services makes a difference to the ability of businesses to grow and compete on the world stage.
Delivering on our promises
From this Sunday some of our election promises will be fulfilled as new initiatives come into force. Free visits to the doctor after-hours for under-6's will begin from Sunday. Visits to the doctor are already free for under-6's during work hours, and we've extended the free doctors' visits scheme because we know it's important that families are able to visit the doctor any time of the day or night. We've also expanded the successful voluntary bonding scheme to cover radiation therapists and medical physicists from 1 July.
Rates of Paid Parental Leave will increase by $16 per week from 1 July too, giving new parents more financial support in the first few months of their new-born's life.
From my diary
Next week is school holidays and Parliament is in recess for two weeks. That means National's hardworking MPs will be away from Wellington and back in their electorates. I'll be spending time in Auckland, and in my Helensville electorate.