Wellington, Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Last week saw the official start of the Parliamentary year, however my colleagues and I have already been hard at work to ensure a productive start to 2017.
In late January, we announced the $300 million rollout of phase two of the government’s ultra-fast broadband plan across New Zealand.
This will see an extra 400,000 people in more than 150 towns access ultra-fast broadband.
In early February, we announced our $503 million Safer Communities package that boosts Police staff by 1125, including 880 sworn officers, to get the worst offenders off our streets and keep our communities safer.
We announced the date of the General Election – September 23. And we set a date for the Budget – May 25.
We have been busy.
Last week, I made my first statement to the House as Prime Minister in which I outlined the direction of the Government heading into 2017.
This Government is ambitious for New Zealand so we have set ourselves a busy agenda for the next few months to ensure everything we do makes a positive difference.
Front and centre of our agenda is a continued focus on maintaining our strong and growing economy.
We are on track for average economic growth of 3% over the next few years, making us one of the fastest growing countries in the developed world.
Around 130,000 new jobs have been created over the past year.
Average wages have increased by $12,000 since we came into office – double the rate of inflation.
Back to surplus
We were one of the first developed countries to get back into surplus after the Global Financial Crisis, and with surpluses predicted to keep rising in the coming years, we have the best opportunity in decades to create jobs, increase wages, and help New Zealanders get ahead.
That is good news for everyone.
It means we have capacity to support New Zealand communities through future challenges at home and, in an uncertain world, abroad.
New Zealand has always been a great place to live and raise a family, and the National-led Government will be working hard this year to keep it that way.
Bill English is Prime Minister of New Zealand.