Hobson Article - January/February 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

Nothing beats the Auckland summer.  I’m at my happiest running up Mt Hobson and looking out to all the activity in the harbour, going out to Little Huia, my stomping ground in the Waitakeres, to enjoy the cool of the forest on a hot day, or the simple pleasures of a swim out to the buoy at Kohi followed by an ice cream with the kids. 

The only downside of the summer months is that the tuis in the trees over the street from our bedroom kick off even earlier in the morning.  So much for the dawn chorus – some mornings the cacophony starts at 4am.  On the topic of native birds, I was dive bombed by a fat woodpigeon/kereru coming along Remuera Road last week.  It’s great to see our birdlife coming back so well.

I’m sure it will be another bumper tourism season for the country, which is something to celebrate.  Auckland is the main point of entry and, notwithstanding the worthy attractions of many far flung parts of the country, I do believe our city remains the jewel in this country’s crown. 

We often hear of the difficulties facing the dairy industry, with low international prices.  It’s worth remembering that tourism is going from strength to strength.

In August we celebrated our three millionth visitor to New Zealand in the past year.  Those three million visitors spent $8.7 billion - up a colossal 28 per cent on the previous 12 months.
Every week, it seems, a new or existing airline opens up a new route to the world from Auckland.

Tourism now represents 17.4 per cent of our total exports and is second only to dairy, creating many jobs throughout the country.  Hobbiton in Matamata is a great example. They have hired 92 new staff in the past three months and now employ more than 200 people.  I’m sure also that the cafes of Newmarket will also be doing a roaring trade.

Looking back on the year, I’m very conscious of the privilege I’ve been given to be a Minister in the National Government.  I’ve concentrated on Commerce and Consumer Affairs portfolio, working to raise confidence in the conduct of financial markets in this country, to deepen our savings, working to improve our living standards by ensuring our competition regime is robust so that Kiwis have access to good prices for the things they want to buy, and working on ways to help some of the most vulnerable families successfully avoid hugely damaging debt spirals by improving financial literacy and enforcing basic Responsible Lending principles.

Looking forward, I’m optimistic for New Zealand.  Our position in the world, far away from much of the tumult that we see daily on our screens, has never seemed better.  Our economy has weathered the storms of the past few years well.  Our government is strong, stable and its finances are sustainable.  And with the TPP agreed, our exporters have the promise of greater access to hundreds of millions of customers over the next few decades.

Wishing you and your families all the best for the Christmas and New Year period.