Graphic - Education Achievement

The National Government is committed to giving great educational options for every New Zealander to realise their potential.

2014 will start with a much simpler vocational training system that is easy to navigate for employers, trainees and educators.

Four years ago we had a highly complicated vocational training system in New Zealand with a total of 39 separate industry training organisations and more than 4500 separate qualifications.

We start 2014 with only 14 Industry Training Organisations.  There is now, for example, just one ITO for the primary sector – down from seven ITOs three years ago.

The number of qualifications at the vocational level has also been reduced. There were 4610 separate qualifications at the beginning of 2011 and this has been reduced by 63% to less than 1750 at the end of 2013. The current targeted review of qualifications seeks to have the number reduced to around 1300 by the end of 2014.

I have announced today that I will not be seeking re-election to Parliament later this year.

Invercargill is a diverse and interesting seat to represent and it has been an exciting and interesting responsibility, but I believe it is time to move on.

It has been a privilege to be part of a wider group of Southland leaders who have seen Southland grow and achieve one of the lowest unemployment levels in the country.

Not long after I first became an MP, economist Tony Alexander wrote a column on Invercargill, which more or less instructed the last one to leave Invercargill to turn out the lights.  The census last year showed Southland is achieving growth, I am sure we can look forward to Southland and Invercargill continuing to be a force that punches above its weight.

2013 has been another busy year for the Government.  Building momentum in the economy, providing better public services, and ensuring we stay on track for the future.

The Government’s role is to provide the best economic conditions it can, allowing for global effects and unexpected shocks, to ensure every Kiwi has the chance to perform to the best of the their ability.

I saw this ability first hand at the SIT graduation last week, where hundreds of smiling graduands finished their courses and prepared to enter the workplace or continue their study.

The National Government will continue to work hard in 2014 to ensure everyone has the best opportunities possible to succeed and grow.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and look forward to seeing you again in 2014.

The National Government is putting a $4.3 million programme in place to raise awareness of prostate cancer and ensure all men have access to quality information and care.

This is the first time a New Zealand government has had such a focus on prostate cancer awareness and ensuring men can easily access the latest evidence based information.  One of the resources is a leaflet which includes a checklist to help men decide if they need a prostate check. It asks nine simple yes or no questions, to get men thinking about their prostate health..

New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to develop a comprehensive national prostate cancer programme.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in New Zealand – each year around 3000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and the disease kills around 600 men annually.

Crime is never acceptable.  And it’s frustrating to see young people turn to crime. Although youth crime has fallen 19% in two years, this success doesn’t mean National is going to relax our fight.  We can’t afford to, not while young people still offend, reoffend, and go on to enter our adult justice system. We have increased our Better Public Services target of reducing youth crime.

We are focused on how to keep lowering the crime rate, how to turn things around for kids who have committed crimes, and how we stop others from choosing a path to crime.

National aims to further reduce offending by young people over the next 10 years.

The Youth Crime Action Plan makes small, achievable changes at every stage of our world-leading youth justice system.

Ensuring working families are better off staying in paid employment than on a benefit has just got a boost.

From 1 April next year, low-income working families who are eligible for the minimum family tax credit will receive an increase.

The minimum family tax credit currently ensures that families who work the minimum number of hours and who are not receiving a benefit will have an after-tax income of $22,724 a year. This will rise to $22,776 a year from 1 April 2014.

The minimum family tax credit provides a guaranteed minimum family income to families who are in work and ensures they are no worse off moving off a benefit and into paid employment.

Families of all shapes and sizes are the backbone of our communities.  National is working hard to ensure families have the support they need to succeed.

The increase in the population of the deep South is great news.  I often get challenged about what the National Government is doing about regional growth.

The concept most people have is of the time not so long ago when specific projects in specific areas were subsidised by taxpayers.  These were always pretty visible and identifiable, but did not often provide a medium or long term return in terms of jobs, growth and investment in people.

The National Government’s business plan of low interest rates and free trade agreements, restructuring the dairy industry and building infrastructure is showing merit all over the country.

It is Government’s role to put in place the economic and social tools to make business and communities thrive.

The increase in population numbers  in the South of 2469 is a real indication that we are on the right track.

The Government’s goal of supporting communities to prevent and reduce harm caused by legal highs is working.

We’ve taken a market that was a completely unknown quantity and out of control, and in a staged approach, pared it back hugely and implemented strict and robust controls. These controls will continue to be enhanced and strictly applied.

When the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force in July there was an immediate ban on sales from dairies or any sort of grocery store, petrol stations, or anywhere alcohol is sold. Products cannot be sold to under-18-year olds.

We have already seen the number of products legally available reduced from 200-300 to 28. The number of retailers has been cut from an estimated 3500 to around 110 with temporary licences. Several retailers have just been banned from trading after breaching temporary licence conditions.

Not using legal highs is always the safest option for anyone. However, the new law ensures that people who choose to seek out ‘legal highs’ are not harmed by unregulated substances.

The onus of proof is now on producers and suppliers, not the government, to prove their products are ’very low risk’.

This denies backyard chemists the opportunity to beat the law by simply altering the chemical make-up of their drugs and sends a message to the community and producers and suppliers of psychoactive substances these products are harmful and won’t be tolerated unless they can be proven to be of ‘very low risk’.

Police report a drop in criminal behaviour blamed on synthetic drugs and the National Poisons Centre has seen a drop in the reporting of adverse reactions.

The Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority, set up under the Act, is not simply rubber stamping applications. It has a risk assessment framework, similar to those used by medicine regulatory bodies, to determine which products receive interim approval and which are declined for interim licenses.

High-profile Kronic, Kryptonite, and K2 products are all banned.

All 28 products with temporary approvals for sale will be further tested to ensure compliance as ‘very low risk’ and if they are found to have known harmful substances they will immediately be removed from sale.

There will be zero tolerance for any breaches of the law.

Local authorities have powers to restrict retailing from particular locations – similar to alcohol policies – such as near schools.

If you believe the law is being flouted you should contact police.

Wages are growing, cost of living increases have been modest, and interest rates are at 50-year lows.

The latest cost of living data shows consumer prices rose by just 0.7%in the year to June. This was the lowest annual increase in the cost of living for nearly 14 years and the fourth annual increase below 1%.

After-tax wages are up 22% since 2008, over twice the inflation rate. Gross wages have increased 14%, after tax they have increased 22%.  Inflation has been 9%.  This means real, after-tax wages have increased by 12% since Sept 2008.

To put that in context, in the nine years to September 2008, on average real after-tax wages increased by only 4% over that entire period.

The fiscal outlook has improved as a result of National’s sound management and we are on track to surplus in 2014/15.

Contact Me

Thanks for visiting my website.
You can contact me either by email me here, phone my electorate office on 218 7749, or call in to 97 Dee Street Invercargill (opposite Waxy O'Shea's).

I'm also on Facebook - you can find my page here

Authorised by Eric Roy, 97 Dee St, Invercargill

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