Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Nigel Skelt, the team at Stadium Southland, Sport Southland, and all those who have rolled their sleeves up to get on with business after the Stadium collapse.

You can-do attitude has meant the school holidays sporting programmes, major events, and local sports have been able to continue despite the major disruption to business as usual.

Another major disruption, and one that will hit the entire province hard, is the loss of so much stock in the week-long winter blast.  My condolences go out to all those involved, and while I know it is not a good time for either farmers or animals, stay strong in this time of gloom.

From October 1, the tax cuts promised by the Government come into effect.

The average family will be about $25 per week better off, the average wage earner about $15 better off, and a couple on NZ Superannuation will get about an extra $11 a week.

The lowest tax bracket will drop to 10.5 percent, and there is an immediate increase of 2.02 percent in Working for Families, superannuation, and benefits.

The 1 October changes are an important part of National’s plan to boost growth,create jobs, and lift incomes.

There are quite a few other tax changes, such as reducing taxes on savings over the medium term.  The tax changes will boost New Zealand’s longer-term growth prospects by tilting the economy towards savings, investment and exports and away from borrowing, housing speculation and consumption.

This is the next step in the Government’s programme to achieve faster growth and support sustainable, higher-paying jobs. In addition, the personal tax cuts-GST switch will leave the vast majority of Kiwis better off.

Treasury advice indicates even when all forecast cost of living increases for the rest of the year are taken into account, including the rise in GST and other issues, real after-tax wages will grow as a result of these changes.

We expect some volatility in the next few quarters. The Canterbury earthquake and uncertainties about the global outlook will no doubt impact on New Zealand’s immediate economic performance. That reinforces the need for the Government to press on with its comprehensive plan for turning around the economy.

This is the first part of the most significant tax reform package in New Zealand for nearly 25 years. For ordinary New Zealanders it will reward effort, encourage savings and help families to get ahead.

There are a lot of hurdles ahead of us at the moment.  Economists are noting the Canterbury earthquake will hurt GDP growth as people are unable to work and capital assets need to be rebuilt.

Nevertheless, these changes from October 1 will benefit all hard working New Zealanders.