Goldsmith Update - May 2015

Goldsmith Update
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The past few weeks in politics have been typically robust, and our challenge has been to keep focused on the important issues that affect the daily lives of New Zealanders.  Having a job, having good prospects for you and your family, feeling safe in your home and a sense that progress is being made on those frustrations in life that governments can influence.

Our economy has been exceptionally good at creating jobs, around 74,000 in the past year alone and 217,000 jobs since 2008.   That’s why young people in this country have so much better prospects for getting a job than their counterparts in Europe and so many other parts of the world.  It’s something to celebrate.

Our strong economy is enabling us to invest more in health, so families can feel more confident that if something goes wrong they will be well cared for.  I particularly pleased that we’ve been able to extend free GPs visits and prescriptions to children aged under 13.

But the challenges of growth in Auckland, in particular, remain.  This Government has been very active on housing issues, with its Special Housing Areas agreed with the Auckland Council.  Everyone is feeling some pressure to increase supply of new houses to deal with Auckland’s growing population.  We’ve made it easier for new home buyers to access more of their KiwiSaver funds and to access HomeStart assistance.  Expect to see more initiatives.

I’m particularly troubled by the very high rates increases signalled by Auckland Council.  To approach 10 per cent at a time of near-zero inflation is unacceptable.   These are explained by investing in transport, but actually projected investment in Auckland’s road network, which most people use either in cars or buses, is actually being reduced.  Meantime, colossal sums are ear-marked for proposed initiatives which, by the council’s own reckoning, will deliver very little benefit in terms of reducing congestion.

In my ministerial role, last week I announced changes to the Companies Act that took effect on 1 May.  New Zealand has an international reputation as one of the easiest countries in the world to set up a business and get started.  That’s good, but we mustn’t allow our reputation to be tarnished by international criminals seeking to take advantage of this. The new rules require companies to have at least one director who lives in New Zealand or Australia, and provides for better personal records to be kept.   The changes are just one of many ways that we’re working to maintain a good environment for business in this country.

In Epsom, Anzac Day was very special.  I joined a huge crowd at the Museum’s dawn ceremony, then a very well attended service at Auckland Grammar School, before returning to the museum to lay a wreath on behalf of the Government at the Civic Ceremony.  In commemorating that calamity a century ago, we made true that invocation “we will remember them”.  Personally, I find myself being thankful that neither my father’s generation nor mine has been called upon to fight in a global war.  I hope that same holds true for my son’s generation.  As a parliamentarian and Government Minister, there is no more important object than doing what we can to ensure this part of the world remains in peace.

I was pleased, finally, to take part in a celebration in Parliament last week that recognised the achievements of the nation’s top secondary school scholars.  Ten Premier Scholars were recognised, including two young men from Auckland Grammar School, Jonathan Hart and Rahul Sood.  Congratulations to those two boys and their families.

Hon Paul Goldsmith
National List MP based in Epsom

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