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30 June 2015
Delivering benefits to families - July 1 changes

A number of government policies that come into effect tomorrow will deliver real benefits to families, Prime Minister John Key says.

From tomorrow all children under 13 will have access to free GP visits and prescriptions.  

It is estimated that over 400,000 children will benefit from the scheme, taking the total number of children who are benefitting from free GP visits and prescriptions to over 750,000.

“We’re committed to giving kids the best start in life and that means ensuring they are able to go to the doctor any time of the day or night without their parents worrying about the cost,” says Mr Key.

“Doctor’s visits and prescriptions are already free for children under the age of six and thanks to our careful management of the government’s books we have been able to extend this policy to all children under 13.”

Other changes that come into effect tomorrow include:

  • The average ACC motor vehicle levy, including the annual licence levy and petrol levy, will fall from around $330 to $195 per year.
  • Paid parental leave payments will increase with the maximum weekly rate for eligible employees and self-employed parents going from $504.10 to $516.85 gross.
  • More assistance for solo parents who are studying
  • Additional checks for people working with young New Zealanders
  • More funding will also be made available to hospices to help them expand their community palliative services to better support terminally ill people at home and in aged-care facilities.

“These changes show how a growing and vibrant economy is delivering New Zealanders more money in their back pockets.”

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18 June 2015
PM welcomes more regional flights

Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key has welcomed the announcement by Jetstar that the airline will expand its domestic network to regional New Zealand.

Jetstar announced today that from December it will fly to at least four regional locations, with Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson and Invercargill among the destinations under consideration.

“Today’s commitment is more good news for New Zealand and for the regions,” says Mr Key.

“This will create jobs, mean cheaper fares and more choice for New Zealanders and our international visitors, and will provide a welcome boost to regional economies.”

Mr Key says the regions are making an important contribution to New Zealand’s economy.

“They’re doing this through a diverse range of industries such as tourism, niche-manufacturing, winemaking, forestry, agriculture and horticulture.

“And the Government is supporting them through important programmes such as ultra-fast broadband, rural broadband and our regional roading programme.

“Extra air links will help connect regional New Zealand with the world and the main centres, making it easier to do business and for Kiwis and tourists to get around the country.”

Last year a record 2.95 million tourists visited New Zealand, spending $7.45 billion - 13 per cent more than the year before - and the Government remains committed to growing those numbers and ensuring the benefits are spread around the country.

Mr Key says New Zealand’s strong economy is giving businesses such as Jetstar the confidence to invest here.

“This is another example of how a growing and vibrant economy is delivering more benefits for Kiwis.”

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05 June 2015
Prime Minister expresses condolences

Prime Minister John Key has this morning expressed his deepest sympathies for the family, friends and supporters of Lecretia Seales who lost her battle with cancer.

“Cancer is a terrible disease for those who suffer it and it’s particularly hard on those who witness their loved ones eventually succumb to it,” says Mr Key

“My heart goes out to Lecretia’s family and friends.”

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21 May 2015
Supporting children in hardship focus of Budget

The National-led Government’s seventh Budget continues to support New Zealanders while responsibly managing the growing economy and the Government’s finances, Prime Minister John Key says.

In particular, it will deliver a $790 million package to help children living in some of New Zealand’s poorest families.

The package includes a balanced mix of greater work expectations for sole parents and more financial support for parents on a benefit. Benefit rates for families with children will increase by $25 a week after tax, from 1 April next year. This is the first increase outside inflation adjustments since 1972.

“After the last election, I said children in hardship were a Government priority and by building a strong economy we can provide more support for them,” Mr Key says. “Increasing the weekly payment for beneficiary families and lifting Working for Families payments to low-income households will make a real difference by allowing parents to better provide for their children.

“Two-thirds of children in more severe material hardship have a parent on a benefit, with nine out of 10 of those being sole parents, so it’s important to focus attention on this group of families.”

Lower-income working families that are not on a benefit also get an increase in their Working for Families payments and there is more childcare support to help low-income parents in work.

“Billions of dollars are already invested every year in supporting low-income families and we’re also addressing the long-term drivers of material hardship like poor educational achievement,” Mr Key says.

“But there is still a group of children who, through no fault of their own, are in families where there is considerable hardship. We are firmly focused on helping these children out of the cycle of hardship.”

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20 May 2015
Two new tourism projects to receive funding

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key has today announced the Government is investing in two new tourism projects in Rotorua and Blenheim.

Through the Tourism Growth Partnership fund, the Government is investing $350,000 to support the development of a new spa complex on Rotorua’s lakefront, and $1.5 million to support a new exhibition at Blenheim’s Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

“Tourism is a significant part of our economy and a major employer,” says Mr Key.

“The $32 million contestable Tourism Growth Partnership fund aims to boost innovation and productivity in the tourism sector. For each project approved for investment, the Government provides up to 50 per cent of the required funding.”

The Government has now invested $8.1 million in 15 projects.  This is in addition to the applicants’ contributions of $39.2 million, giving a total $47.3 million investment in the tourism industry.

“Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre has already established itself as a premier tourism attraction, featuring Sir Peter Jackson’s WWI aviation collection. The centre will be expanded to include a WWII hangar exhibition, which will also serve as a function centre capable of catering of up to 500 guests,” says Mr Key.

“The World Spa project aims to develop an international standard spa and wellness complex on Rotorua’s lakefront.  The Rotorua District Council has set a goal of 1.5 million commercial spa visits yearly, and the development of this new spa complex will certainly help with achieving that goal.”

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