As 2017 draws to a close, we’ve much to celebrate here in New Zealand. We live in a peaceful part of the world. We continue to enjoy relative prosperity and a quality of life which consistently is ranked amongst the best in the world.
Naturally, we always want to strive to do better, to solve immediate and long-standing problems, but while we strive it is important to take the time as Christmas and the New Year break comes along to reflect on the progress that we’ve made and what we have to celebrate.
On the economic side, New Zealand is strong. Continued growth means that 180,000 new jobs were created in the past two years. Young people starting their working lives have plenty of opportunities to succeed.
A strong economy means we can invest in the things which strengthen our society – good healthcare for all, including free or cheaper GP visits for more New Zealanders, assistance to those in need. We can continue to invest in our environment, such as through the huge efforts to eradicate pests that threaten our native species.
I have three daughters, and I know that New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for young woman to live. They have access to a quality education and no barriers to them achieving in their careers what they desire, provided they’re willing to work for it. We have heard a lot about the gender pay gap, and there is more work to be done. But we shouldn’t forget that the gap in New Zealand is one of the smallest in the world.
This year, I have been cast into the political role of Opposition. This is new to me, and an essential part of it is to hold the Government to account. The danger, naturally, is that it leads to negativity and constant carping. I will be critical of the new government, because there are things which they are proposing, which I believe are mistaken. Such as sharply reducing the number of international students, which would directly harm the many thousands of Kiwis who work in that important export sector.
But my goal is not to lapse into general negativity. This country is a great place. We have the potential to do better. So I’ll try to ‘propose’ as much as ‘oppose’.
I’d love to hear from you over the next few months if you have ideas you would like me to consider.
Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.