Welcome to the 2011 National Party Northern Region Conference.
I’d like to thank you for being here today.
You are loyal National Party members and you make this Party strong.
It is because of you that we are in government, building a brighter future for New Zealand.
Let me express my special thanks to our Party President, Peter Goodfellow.
Let me also thank your Regional Chair, Alan Towers.
And I’m sure you will all join me in thanking the Ministers and Members of Parliament from the North.
The Honourable Judith Collins, MP for Papakura.
The Honourable Murray McCully, MP for East Coast Bays.
The Honourable Tim Groser.
The Honourable Dr Wayne Mapp, our North Shore MP. I’ll be sorry to see Wayne go at the election, but we thank you for your contribution and wish you and your family well for the future.
The Honourable Steven Joyce. Steven is also our Campaign Chair and he’s putting in huge hours to make sure we win on 26 November.
The Honourable Paula Bennett, MP for Waitakere.
The Honourable Phil Heatley, MP for Whangarei.
The Honourable Dr Jonathan Coleman, MP for Northcote.
The Honourable Maurice Williamson, MP for Pakuranga.
The Honourable John Carter. John’s been a very effective MP for Northland for eight terms and I know he will be missed when he retires. As Minister of Civil Defence, he’s had the hugely important task of leading the Civil Defence response in Canterbury after the two devastating earthquakes. He’s done us proud.
Thank you also to Dr the Right Honourable Lockwood Smith, Speaker of the House and long-serving Rodney MP. Lockwood has announced that he will step down as Rodney MP at this election, but I am delighted that he will seek re-election on the National Party List. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Lockwood for being an outstanding representative for the people of Rodney.
Thanks to our hardworking electorate representatives.
Dr Paul Hutchison in Hunua.
Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central.
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, the MP for Maungakiekie.
Allan Peachey in Tamaki.
Our newest MP, Jami-Lee Ross, in Botany.
And, of course, thanks to our Northern Region list MPs.
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi.
Dr Jackie Blue.
Dr Cam Calder.
The Honourable Tau Henare.
And Melissa Lee.
You do a great job and the National Party is proud to have you representing us.
I’d also like to say a special thanks to your families and friends who make what we Parliamentarians do possible.
In a moment I want to turn to the recent Budget.
But first, I want to outline National’s investment in the public assets needed to fuel New Zealand’s long-term economic growth.
Over the next four years we will undertake a $34 billion investment programme, to ensure New Zealanders have the roads, public transport networks, schools, hospitals, broadband and other infrastructure they need.
So the question is, given the state of the Government finances, how will we pay for these investments?
This Government doesn’t want to just keep building up debt. So, like any household wanting to upgrade its assets by, for example, buying a new car, we have carefully considered what we might be able to sell in order to help pay for them.
That’s how we came up with the mixed-ownership model. That policy will see us offering investors shares in five companies: Air New Zealand, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Genesis and Solid Energy.
By divesting a part of each of these companies, the government will raise between $5 and $7 billion to pay for new public assets like schools and hospitals.
However, unlike the scaremongering you might have heard, we won’t be giving up New Zealand ownership of these companies.
In fact, we are so determined to retain New Zealand ownership of these companies that we have set a bottom line that in the course of bringing in new investors, the government must retain majority ownership.
That’s right, the government will keep at least 51 per cent of each of the companies I previously listed, meaning they will stay in Kiwi control. We will continue to be the biggest shareholder in Air New Zealand, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Genesis and Solid Energy. That means we will keep the power and control that comes with majority ownership, while freeing up billions of dollars for other assets.
What’s more, we will be able to give everyday New Zealanders the opportunity to invest in these companies.
We know that many of you are keen to invest in this country. You want a chance to invest in solid, productive assets that have the potential to pay good dividends into the future.
New Zealanders deserve an alternative investment option to the sort of failed finance companies that have led to so many to lose their savings.
Whether it’s with your personal savings, or via the KiwiSaver fund you invest in, or even the New Zealand Super Fund, we think there’s huge potential for Kiwis to benefit from having a stake in one of these five companies.
So our mixed-ownership model puts you at the front of the queue when it comes to buying shares. That was a bottom line for us going into this and it remains a bottom line.
We are also determined to ensure that this mixed ownership model won’t disadvantage the New Zealanders who rely on the services these companies provide.
We’ve had a careful look at the laws and regulations governing these companies and we are satisfied they will protect you from, for example, unprecedented spikes in power prices.
Consumer New Zealand, the independent watchdog on these matters, agrees with us. They say the mixed-ownership model won’t drive up power prices.
That’s because the government will continue to influence power prices through the regulations we set.
In fact, we think there is strong evidence that these companies will do an even better job for consumers under the mixed-ownership model.
My fellow delegates, the mixed-ownership model is a policy National will be proud to campaign on at this election.
I’m confident that New Zealanders will back this policy.
It’s a policy that puts billions of dollars more into our schools, hospitals and public infrastructure.
It’s a policy that guarantees government control over these five important companies.
It’s a policy that will boost the New Zealand stockmarket and give more Kiwi companies the opportunity to grow.
It’s a policy that gives New Zealanders a fantastic opportunity to invest in this country’s future.
And it’s a policy that achieves all these things while ensuring our country doesn’t get even deeper into debt.
It’s a smart policy that will strengthen the New Zealand economy and you should be proud to support it.
In the Budget, National set out the economic plan that we will take to the election – which, of course, includes the mixed-ownership model.
It’s a balanced, fair and affordable Budget. It is the next step in our plan to rebalance the economy towards savings, exports and productive investment, and away from debt, consumption and government spending.
The Budget is one that I will be proud to campaign on, and that you can be proud to campaign on, too.
Let me cover some of the highlights.
First, this Budget gets the government’s finances in order.
This Budget will see the government’s books get out of the red within three years, so that we can begin to pay down debt.
It ensures debt will peak at less than 30 per cent of GDP, and in four years’ time will start to come down quickly.
The National Party knows that New Zealand can’t afford to keep borrowing its way to the future. We don’t want this country to be built on one big Ponzi scheme. That’s Labour’s prescription; it’s not ours.
I’m simply not prepared to leave our children and grandchildren with a ticking time-bomb of debt. So this Budget does the hard yards of getting our books in order.
Second, this Budget delivers 170,000 new jobs and rising wages, while keeping interest rates and tax rates low.
A family with a mortgage now pays a floating interest rate around five percentage points lower than they did in Labour’s last year in office.
For a family with a $200,000 mortgage, for example, that means $200 a week more in their pocket.
That makes a huge difference to such a family, and it makes home ownership affordable for many more New Zealanders.
And, unlike Labour, this Government won’t be raising taxes and it won’t be imposing a new capital gains tax.
We are proud that as a result of our tax reforms last year, three-quarters of income earners now pay a top tax rate of 17.5 per cent or less.
That says to New Zealanders that if they want to get ahead, if they want to do better for themselves and their family, and if they work hard and save hard, then this Government will support them.
Third, this Budget invests in public services and infrastructure for our future.
It clearly demonstrates National’s priorities: $1.4 billion more for education, $1.7 billion more for health, and more money to improve law and order in our communities.
And unashamedly we’ve done some trimming. Less money for bureaucracy, less money for backroom administration, less money for Wellington waste.
It also continues our investment in the building blocks of future growth.
This week we delivered on a major 2008 election promise and finalised contracts for ultra-fast broadband.
Ultra-fast broadband is the way of the future, and it is a crucial part of our economic growth plan.
Speeds of 100 megabits per second and higher will revolutionise the way many businesses operate.
The population of the Auckland Super City is estimated at nearly 1,462,000.
This includes more than 24,200 business premises, more than 400 schools, and more than 2500 medical premises.
By December 2015, all health premises and schools will be set up for ultra-fast broadband – and 90 per cent of businesses will be, too.
This comes on top of our ongoing investment in other growth arteries – such as our highways and public transport networks.
Major roading projects have progressed very well under National. Five out of the seven roads of National Significance are now under construction.
These roads are our most essential routes – including the Victoria Park Tunnel, the Western Ring Route, and the Waikato Expressway.
You would’ve seen the Waterview Tunnel – part of the Western Ring Route – got its resource consent a few days ago. This will provide a major new link to West Auckland, and to the city from the airport.
Fourth, it’s a Budget that ensures the Working for Families, KiwiSaver, and interest-free student loan schemes will continue to deliver for the thousands of people who rely on them.
We’ve listened to New Zealanders who say they want these schemes to last in good weather and bad and we’ve made the changes to ensure they can.
Finally, this is a Budget that funds the Government’s share of rebuilding Christchurch.
It establishes a $5.5 billion Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund.
National Party members, this is a Budget to be proud of.
It builds on our Government’s record of responsible economic management and it makes me optimistic about the future of this country.
The National Party campaigned on being the best managers of the economy, and we are delivering.
We also campaigned on bringing much-needed improvements to this country’s education, health, and law and order systems.
We’re delivering there, as well. Today I want to take you through some of our achievements in these crucial areas.
National campaigned on a plan to improve our education system and we have invested wisely to achieve that.
We’re not prepared to stand by and accept the situation Labour tolerated, where as many as one in five young people left school without even the most basic qualification needed to get them into an apprenticeship.
We’ve implemented National Standards in reading, writing and maths in our primary and intermediate schools.
We’ve boosted trades and skills training in schools so that more young people get the hands-on learning opportunities they need. We’ve boosted the numbers of places in the Youth Guarantee, and we’re opening eight Trades Academies this year.
We’re getting better value out of our tertiary education system, with record numbers of places being made available in our universities, creating a smart workforce for the future.
We’re providing good opportunities for young people who are struggling to find work, with hundreds of new places in the Limited Service Volunteers army-based training programmes, training subsidies for employers taking on youth in high-demand industries, and $5000 Job Ops subsidies available for employers willing to employ and train young people.
And we’re ensuring that more of the children who are missing out on early childhood education, but who would have so much to gain from it, have the opportunity to access it. We’ve put an additional $550 million into early childhood education in this Budget alone.
We have also remained steadfast in our commitment to protect and grow the public health service.
We’ve simplified and streamlined the health bureaucracy, and refocused resources on the frontline.
There are 1000 more nurses and 500 more doctors working in our health service.
New Zealanders who have cancer wait no more than four weeks for treatment under a National Government.
This means that within four weeks of having a specialist assessment, cancer patients start the radiation therapy they need.
Under a Labour Government they needed a passport – they needed to go to Australia.
We’ve set clear targets and driven performance so that 20,000 more people each year are now receiving the elective surgery they need – for things like hip replacements, cataracts and gall bladder removals.
We’ve ensured better access to medicines, with an extra 1.8 million prescriptions made available.
More children than ever before are being immunised, meaning we’re preventing illness and death for some of our most vulnerable New Zealanders.
We have a proven track-record of achieving better bang for your health dollars and we’ll be campaigning to continue this progress.
National has also delivered on our promise to take action on violent crime.
We’ve passed 18 new laws to help make families safer in their homes and communities.
We’ve made sentences tougher and strengthened bail laws. We’ve removed parole for the worst repeat violent offenders and worked with the Act Party to pass a Three Strikes law.
We’ve boosted the number of Police and given them new tools to tackle crime.
We’ve launched a full-on assault on the vicious trade in P, with new anti-drug forces at the border, improved Police powers and intelligence to crackdown on the gangs that produce and distribute P, and we have created more addiction treatment for P users.
We are seizing the assets of criminals under a tough new forfeiture law.
We’ve improved services for victims.
We’ve implemented our Fresh Start programme, which is taking young offenders off the street and putting them in a range of programmes designed to nip their offending in the bud.
We are confident that the steps we have taken, together with our ongoing work to address the drivers of crime, will help New Zealanders feel safer in their communities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this Government has delivered on our promises and we have done what we said we would do.
I am proud to say that we have achieved all this while taking people with us.
We have not left large groups of New Zealanders behind, or conducted a slash and burn exercise that could have alienated large sections of the community.
Ours has been a moderate and inclusive approach, and that’s the approach we will continue into a second term of Government.
And there’s still a lot more that we can do.
This year’s election will be about which party has a realistic plan to achieve faster growth for New Zealanders – growth that will deliver the jobs, higher incomes, and better living standards New Zealanders aspire to and deserve.
National will be campaigning on the things that matter to all New Zealanders.
And law and order.
The National Party, together with our confidence and supply partners, has provided stable, effective government for the past two-and-a-half years.
We have made good progress towards the brighter future we promised New Zealanders and we are full of enthusiasm for the work ahead.
Our first term in Government has been undeniably challenging.
New Zealand has been tested by some huge events beyond our control.
The international financial crisis and a global economic recession.
The impact of the retail deposit guarantee scheme, in particular from South Canterbury Finance.
The Pike River mine tragedy.
Two devastating earthquakes.
These events have made life difficult for many Kiwis.
Our hearts have gone out to the families who have lost loved ones, or who have had their livelihoods taken away and their daily lives turned upside down.
New Zealanders have come together as a country to show support to those in hardship and I’ve been really impressed by the resiliency they have shown.
The Government has also risen to these challenges.
We have done everything we can to stand by those affected and to provide them the leadership and support they need.
We will continue to do so.
We will go to the polls on November 26 promising a continuation of the positive, aspirational and inclusive approach that we’ve shown so far.
We will stick to the fair, responsible course that New Zealanders have come to expect from us.
We are optimistic about the future.
This country is set for great things.
The world is paying more for our exports than ever before. Our people are getting out of debt and investing productively. Our personal tax rates are the lowest they have been in decades. Our schools are more focused on lifting student achievement than ever before. Our hospitals are performing more operations and our law and order system is better across the board.
On 26 November this year, voters will be presented with a clear choice.
By voting National, New Zealanders will be voting for forward-looking policies that will take us that next step towards a brighter future.
They will be voting for a team that has been tried and tested.
They will be voting for a team that can deliver on its promises.
The National-led Government has a proven track record.
With the help of you, the Party faithful, National will be able to continue its hard work to build the brighter future that New Zealanders aspire to and deserve.
Thank you for your hard work.
Now, let’s go out and win that election.Tweet
Prime Minister John Key today announced that Olympic Gold medallist Sarah Ulmer has signed up as an ambassador for Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail project (NZCT).
Mr Key told delegates and media at tourism conference TRENZ in Queenstown that he was delighted Ms Ulmer would front the promotion of the NZCT project.
“Sarah Ulmer’s sporting achievements and her passion for cycling, fitness and health make her an inspiring ambassador for the Cycle Trail.
“We already have one Great Ride open - the St James Cycle Trail - and 17 others are due to be opened in the near future. It is important to build the Cycle Trail brand to a point where both domestic and international visitors feel inspired to experience these Great Rides,” says Mr Key.
Sarah Ulmer is one of New Zealand’s most recognised sports personalities. She became the first New Zealander to win an Olympic cycling gold when she won the women’s individual pursuit in Athens in 2004. She also won the pursuit gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002.
Ms Ulmer says the NZCT will offer a wonderful range of cycling experiences for visitors to enjoy.
“Supporting this project brings together my own passion for cycling with my strong desire to encourage people from all walks of like to get out, get active and explore the outstanding range of cycling experiences New Zealand has to offer.
“There is something pretty special and unique about exploring a country on two wheels and having access to some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery,” says Ms Ulmer.
24 May 2011
PM welcomes deal to deliver ultra fast broadband
Prime Minister John Key today welcomed the announcement of a deal with two further providers to deliver ultra fast broadband to New Zealanders.
“The announcement today marks a major step in meeting one of our main 2008 election promises,” says Mr Key.
“The ultra fast broadband initiative is a key part of the Government’s economic growth plan. Ultra fast broadband is the way of the future.”
“The Government has reached agreement with Enable Networks to roll out fibre across Christchurch and Rangiora, and with Telecom across Auckland, the eastern and lower North Island and most of the South Island.
“This follows up the previous agreements with WEL Networks and Northpower, and completes the agreements we need to meet our promise to roll out fibre to 75 per cent of urban areas in New Zealand.
“Ultra fast broadband speeds delivered via these public private partnerships will revolutionise the way many businesses, schools, healthcare providers and communities operate. It will help overcome the tyranny of distance with the rest of the world, and new applications and ways of doing things will be developed.
“The rollout will start immediately with schools and healthcare facilities.
“Rural areas are also covered, with the Rural Broadband Initiative complementing the UFB plan by rolling out much faster broadband to rural communities.”