CERA legislation an important step.
Rebuilding Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes on 4 September and 22 February is one of the Government’s main priorities. The Government will spend about $8.5 billion over the next few years to help rebuild Christchurch, and the job requires a centralised response.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) will lead the recovery, which must be effective, timely, and coordinated. This week Parliament passed the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill, which gives powers to CERA and the responsible Minister. A parliamentary committee heard submissions in Christchurch from local organisations.
Christchurch City Council and other stakeholders have been closely consulted, and are very supportive of the new structure. The Government will continue to support Canterbury over the coming weeks, months, and years. This legislation represents an important step towards restoring the social, economic, cultural, and environmental well-being of Canterbury.
More information: http://www.cera.govt.nz/
Over the past year there has been a steady trickle of constituents contacting me to express concern about a local shortage of places in residential care for people with dementia. I have spoken with families who are very distressed because loved ones will need to be cared for outside of our region.
I have had a number of discussions with Minister of Health Hon Tony Ryall about this issue and will meet with the Minister again with dementia care trainer Jan Hide. Jan has a 30-year background in nursing, aged care and palliative care.
Our meeting with Minister Ryall will be in early May.
Getting into growth mode
Throughout 2010, aftershocks from the global financial crisis continued to ripple around the world.
Here in New Zealand, over the past two years, we have experienced the two earthquakes, the collapse of finance companies, blizzards in Southland, drought in Northland, PSA in the Kiwifruit industry, the costs of leaky homes and schools, loss of life in the Pike River mine, and now potential support package for AMI policyholders.
But we remain confident about our wider economic programme. We are building stronger growth based on savings, investment, and exports. We are focused on getting back to surplus as soon as possible and repaying debt.
There’s certainly no need to change that direction.
The Budget next month will be about pressing on with our programme.
It will focus on increasing savings and investment, as well as the rebuilding of Christchurch. It will be a balanced and responsible Budget for the times.
The earthquakes and finance company collapses certainly come at a considerable cost to taxpayers, but they are one-off costs.
We are responding to them. However, it’s important that we don’t over react.
To put them into perspective, they amount to a several billion dollars over the next four or five years – whereas the Government currently spends about $70 billion a year.
We are on the right track and there are some good reasons to be optimistic for the next few years.
Export prices are at record levels, up 30 per cent over the past year.
The growth of our trading partners is strong, lifting the demand for our exports. We have been well served by our strong ties with Australia, and our growing links with Asia.
We have reinforced our advantages through changes to our tax system, a better regulatory system, and through our new financial markets framework. We also have a flexible labour market and certainty about our emissions trading regime.
Floating mortgage interest rates of around 5.7 per cent are at 45=year lows and have halved in the past three years. Inflation remains low – setting aside the GST rise, for which everyone was at least compensated.
New Zealanders understand the challenges we face. They are supporting the Government’s direction to be more sensible and disciplined because it is what they are doing themselves.
In the Budget, we will restrain new spending and prioritise it towards health, education, and justice. New initiatives will total almost $1 billion. However, this will be substantially offset by reducing lower priority spending in other areas.
The challenge now is to build confidence and get on with building a faster-growing economy. The next year or two will be about getting out of a survival mentality and into growth mode. That’s the only way we will create jobs, boost incomes, and provide the public services you and your family
Government tackles unaffordable legal aid costs
We can’t keep ignoring the significant cost pressures the legal aid system is facing. That’s why National is taking steps to get costs under control.
The legal aid bill has grown 55 per cent in the last three years to $172 million in 2009/10. Left unchecked, the bill for legal aid services could blow out by $402 million over the next five years.
We expect to reduce spending by $138 million over four years, starting in 2011/12.
National remains committed to ensuring access to justice for those who need it. Changes to eligibility will not affect cases involving vulnerable parties, the care and protection of children or serious criminal matters.
Two week recess
As you can see below in the snippets there is a lot happening in the Rangitata electorate over the next two weeks. I will be taking a couple of days off over Easter to spend time with friends and family and I hope you are able to do the same.
• Tuesday 19 April: Rakaia Clinic, 9:30am-12 midday at the Rakaia Hall.
• Tuesday 19 April: Methven Clinic, 1:00pm-3:30pm at the Catholic Parish Centre in Methven.
• Wednesday 20 April: Guest speaker at the Timaru South Rotary Club.
• Saturday 23 April: Attending the 125th Jubilee of Hampstead School.
• Monday 25 April: Attending ANZAC day services. Dawn parade in Ashburton, then services in Winchester and Temuka.
• Wednesday 27 April: Social Development Minister Hon Paula Bennett visiting Rangitata electorate. Visits to Community House in Ashburton and Timaru and Community Link in Ashburton and Timaru.
• Wednesday 27 April: Hon Paula Bennett speaking at a public meeting in Timaru: ‘From Welfare to work: the case for change’. 7pm Caroline Bay Community Lounge.
• Thursday 28 April: Guest Speaker at the Strathallan Ladies Probus Club.
• Friday 29 April: Rangitata Lunch Club. Guest speaker Simon Bridges, MP for Tauranga. 12 midday at Caroline Bay Community Lounge.
• Saturday 30 April: Opening Ashburton Baptist Church new building & redeveloped hall.
• Saturday 30 April: Attending New Zealand Hat and Hair art awards. 8pm at the Theatre Royal in Timaru.
• Sunday 1 May: Opening of Rosebank Villa Complex in Ashburton.