A belated Happy New Year to you all.  The summer recess is over and Parliament has begun again with John Key re-affirming National’s commitment to build a brighter future where New Zealanders have the jobs, higher incomes, and better public services they and their families aspire to.

The National Government has shown we can deliver strong and stable Government in difficult times – including a global economic crisis and the destructive earthquakes in Canterbury.

In 2012, we’re continuing with our plan to build a brighter future for all New Zealanders.

Our  four main priorities over the next three years are:

Responsibly managing the Government’s finances.

Building a more competitive and productive economy.

Delivering better public services.

Rebuilding Christchurch.

We’re on track to return to Budget surplus in 2014/15 – a $300 million to $500 million surplus is forecast in that year.

Being fiscally responsible is important to help keep the pressure off interest rates, which are the single biggest cost to most households, and the exchange rate, which is good for exporters.

Over the next two years our economy is forecast to grow more strongly than the Eurozone, Britain, Japan, the United States, and Canada – so we are in relatively good shape. However, it is important that we get back to surplus and make our economy more competitive.

We are still not exempt from any of the dark clouds still hovering over some of the European economies, but we are in a better position as our country remains good growth.

With that in mind, we want to see an export-focused economy built on a solid base of innovation selling more of what the world wants at a competitive price.

In the public sector, we’ll be implementing major welfare reforms, focusing on raising achievement across the education sector, improving health services, and introducing legislation to strengthen sentencing, parole and bail laws.

We’re also taking a hard look at the way public services are organised across the board. The state sector could do much better at achieving results and at delivering value for money.

We have to keep our eyes on the long-term – building that better future for all New Zealanders, and we are working hard to make sure that it happens.  It will be a busy three years.