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National is building a safer New Zealand. We’ve embarked on a comprehensive programme of reform to protect communities, prevent crime, and put victims first.

We’ve put more police on the beat, overseen record lows in the crime rate, and modernised the justice system to meet the needs of New Zealanders.

We have introduced a $50 offender levy for victim support services, and added protection for vulnerable children by making it illegal to stay silent if you know a child is at risk of harm.

There are 600 more police on the frontline, tougher penalties for drink drivers, and a six percent drop in recorded crime.

We also have more and more prisoners in training to help reduce their chance of finding a job and lessen their risk of re-offending.

It’s all part of our drive to create safer communities.

Figures late last week confirm New Zealand is well placed economically, despite uncertainty in other parts of the world.  In the three months to June, our economy grew by 0.6%.  This takes annual growth to 2.6% – the highest since 2007, which is great news.

In the first half of 2012, New Zealand has grown faster than the United States, Japan, Canada, the UK, and the Euro area.

New Zealand’s rate of GDP growth, which is the highest we’ve seen since before the domestic recession and the Global Financial Crisis, confirms our economic plans are having a positive effect on New Zealand businesses and households. We expect solid growth to continue.

We are making good progress towards building a more productive and competitive economy – one of our four priorities for this term in office.

In 1967 I went to the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) as part of Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA).

To say it was a culture shock to a young Kiwi is an understatement.  Nevertheless, the work we did then which has continued since is a valuable part of New Zealand’s foreign aid programme.

New Zealand is a world leader in areas like agriculture and tourism development that are vital for developing countries, especially in the Pacific.  The announcement last week that New Zealand is adding an extra $24 million to assisting VSA with this work is welcome.

In 2011 VSA volunteers improved access to drinking water for almost 9000 people, provided sanitation facilities for more than 3000, treated more than 200 patients, and upgraded 90 kilometres of roads.

It is one aid area where we can make a tangible difference to our neighbours.

We have the most generous student support systems in the world.  The National Government is committed to  interest free student loans.

Rebalancing it will free up some money to reinvest in tertiary education and help our overall fiscal position.

Because of the previous Government, the cost of student allowances to taxpayers has grown from $385 million in 2007/08 to $620 million in 2010/11.

Our proposed changes to the loans scheme will give $60 to $70 million of annual savings, which will be largely re-invested across the wider tertiary system.  For many graduates, the weekly repayment obligation will only rise by between $2 and $7 per week.

We need to reduce the  overall cost to the taxpayer while still supporting students.  This is the best way to do it.

The New Zealand economy will continue to expand in 2012.
It has now grown in 10 of the past 11 quarters, despite the ongoing European debt crisis, the Canterbury earthquakes and a high exchange rate.
Earthquake damage amounts to about $20 billion – or around 10 per cent of GDP – but rebuilding will stimulate domestic growth.

Our two largest trading partners, Australia and China, are forecast to maintain relatively high growth rates and  demand for our major export commodities from emerging markets is strong.
We are expected to grow more strongly over the next two years than Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States and Canada.
That has been recognised in recent weeks by some Australian businesses investing here and moving jobs to New Zealand.
Global risks remain and we’re likely to see confidence bounce around for some time. But we are getting there.

News recently that Labour is looking to introduce an extension to paid parental leave from the current 14 weeks to 26 weeks shows a lack of understanding of the economic situation.

It also shows a disconnection with the electorate, who are weary of having to pay for increased Government programmes.

National has have maintained paid parental leave and we currently spend about $150 million per annum on it.  However, we are still two or three years from getting out of budget deficit so it is hard to expand entitlements in these challenging circumstances.

Another aspect from small business owners is that if 26 weeks did come in, they would think twice about employing someone who was likely to take that period off.

Parents spending time with children is important.  But we’ve got to start achieving surpluses before we can have those extra choices.

Last week the Prime Minister announced important steps towards tackling youth mental health issues. Mental health is a big issue for teenagers. Around one in five will experience some form of mental health problem during this crucial time in their lives.

Even a mild mental illness can have a big impact. Teenagers and parents often don’t understand what’s going wrong or what to do about it.

Tackling youth mental health issues is complex and challenging but we do need to address the issues and we can do better.

We’re better equipping schools to identify students with mental health issues and we’re ensuring schools take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their students.

Our initiatives build on successful existing programmes and trial promising new ones. They have the potential to make a real difference.

Press release courtesy of the Southland District Council.  My thanks go to my Parliamentary colleagues for expediting the committee stage and seeing it through the final reading:

The Stewart Island/Rakiura visitor levy has become law after being read for a third and final time by Parliament today.

Senior policy analyst Wayne Heerdegen said the levy is a great example of a council, MPs and the community working together for the betterment of that community.

“Council thanks all members of Parliament for their support of this Bill. Thanks must be especially given to MP Eric Roy for sponsoring the Bill, steering it through the intricacies of Parliament and keeping it on track whenever it was faced with obstacles,” Mr Heerdegen said.

Today’s developments will be well received by the Stewart Island community as the levy will provide an alternative source of revenue to rates that is dedicated to the infrastructure, services and amenities for visitors to the island.

Mayor Frana Cardno and chief executive David Adamson have welcomed the final reading.

The new law allows Council to formally receive and spend the income generated from the proposed levy on behalf of the Stewart Island/Rakiura community and work with the Stewart Island Community Board and tourism industry to administer the levy.

“Visitor levies are common throughout Europe, the US and Australia. Stewart Island is the third largest island of New Zealand and a levy is a reliable, fair and efficient way to collect money for subsidising the costs of international and domestic visitors to the island,” Mr Heerdegen said.

The Government is continuing to crack down on crime.

In terms of public safety, the National Government will be introducing legislation in the current term to strengthen sentencing, parole and bail laws.

It will be harder for those accused of the most serious offences to get bail, the penalties for child pornography will be increased, and Civil Detention Orders will be introduced.

The Victims of Crime Reform Bill will be progressed. The penalties for breaching a protection order will be doubled, and funding will be available for security improvements in the homes of family violence victims.

We are also attacking the causes of criminal behaviour.  That’s something we can all do as a society.  Government provides the tools, and we rely on society not to tolerate anti-social behaviour.

I was talking to someone the other day who is involved in the local club rugby scene.  He said there has been a major change this year.  In the past, a lot of players coming into the province would come along to play looking for help getting into labouring jobs or into the freezing works.

Now new young migrants are coming to Southland to work in trades or train in trades at SIT using the successful ZeroFees scheme.

Improving skills is a key part of the Government’s agenda for lifting New Zealand’s economic growth, and vocational training plays an important role in this. It’s all about getting much better results with the spend we make.

The Government is working closely with industry to ensure that vocational training meets the needs of those who require trainees, and to fill those skill gaps to improve our national productivity.

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).

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Authorised by Eric Roy, 97 Dee St, Invercargill

July 2018
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