Goldsmith Update - February 2017
We’ve had our first session of Parliament for the year and it’s great to have the opportunity to carry on our work. Our new Prime Minister, Bill English, has had a fast start in 2017. I was pleased his first major announcement unveiled a significant Government investment in police and the wider justice sector to reduce crime and keep our communities safe.
The half-billion dollar Safer Communities package will provide an extra 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers.
This package unashamedly targets offenders to ensure they are off our streets – by providing additional resources to resolve more crime and target criminal gangs and organised crime. They will also focus on youth offending, burglaries, and community crime.
There is a 3am spike in criminal offending in Auckland, when the Police’s "Eagle" helicopter stops operating. The Eagle will now be funded to run 24/7, every day of the year. It’s annoying when you’re trying to sleep to have the chopper overhead, but it is necessary.
Meantime, our economy continues to go from strength to strength, and is among the fastest-growing among developed countries. We continue to enjoy a jobs boom – with 137,000 jobs created in the past year alone.
Growth and good management of government spending gives us choices.
We can continue to deliver better quality health and education services to New Zealanders, as we have with extending free GP visits to under-13s and the massive $5 billion spent on upgrading school buildings since 2008.
We can continue to care for the most vulnerable in society in order to maintain our social cohesion. And we can continue to make the massive investment in transport infrastructure in the growing city of Auckland – to keep the city moving and ultimately to help ease the real pressures on housing affordability.
New Zealand’s success is a result of the hard work, ingenuity, pragmatism and goodwill of Kiwis. The Government helps by providing a strong, stable and financially sustainable political environment, combined with steady reform and investment to improve our competitiveness and productivity.
The seamless transition of power from John Key to Bill English demonstrates that National remains disciplined and focused on achieving the best results possible for all New Zealanders.
We’re working hard to win your support again this year.
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Science and Innovation, and Regulatory Reform
My head is still spinning from many, many briefing papers and meetings as I get my head around the many different elements of my new Ministerial portfolios. Tertiary Education covers everything after secondary school – from universities and polytechnics, to trades trading and the private sector catering to domestic and international students.
The export education sector frequently hits the news when a provider gets into trouble, but we shouldn’t forget it has grown rapidly in recent years to generate more than $4 billion in export earnings, sustaining more than 30,000 households with good employment.
The tertiary sector also covers the numerous programmes designed over the years to help those kids who have struggled at school to find a new way into education and ultimately employment. Some of these have had outstanding results, such as the NZ apprenticeship programme under which we have grown the number of apprentices to 42,000 up from 36,000 in 2012 (an increase of 16 per cent). I received my first grilling from the Opposition spokesman on the topic this week:
The primary focus of the Science and Innovation portfolio is to ensure we get excellent results from the nearly $1.3 billion the government invests in science – to build science capability in New Zealand, to answer some of the great questions relevant to us, through such things as the National Science Challenges, and strengthen the contribution of Research & Development to make our economy more productive and competitive. And it’s also about inspiring a new generation to engage in science.
I had a nice break from Parliament this week, visiting Zealandia, a predator-free bird sanctuary in Karori. They were one of 41 projects supported by the 2017 Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund I announced. The Unlocking Curious Minds fund particularly focuses on projects that engage young New Zealanders who have fewer opportunities to be involved with science and technology.
Zealandia are planning a New Zealand – if not world – first project to actively create nature-rich suburbs through the science of translocation. They will bring New Zealand’s smallest bush bird, the tītipounamu or rifleman, to a predator-free suburb of Wellington.
They aim to enable Wainuiomata kids, who ordinarily have no or very limited access to Zealandia learning experiences, to follow the birds from their local forests to the sanctuary during March 2017 for this unique science learning opportunity.
Changes to GST
The IRD have improved the way people file and manage their GST. The changes introduced this week are designed to make processing taxes and entitlements faster and more efficient. This means paying GST will be a lot easier for more than half of New Zealand’s businesses.
The major benefit is the ability to file and pay GST at the same time. For more information on managing your GST online click here.
Congratulations Jacob Lerner
Finally, my former Youth MP, Jacob Lerner, has been announced as the 2017 Deputy Head Prefect at Auckland Grammar School for 2017. Congratulations Jacob!
Hon Paul Goldsmith
National List MP based in Epsom