Weekend Sun column

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Happy New Year! I hope you all had the opportunity to spend some quality time with family and friends over the holidays and enjoy the fantastic weather we’ve been having.

We spent our Christmas in the UK with Natalie’s family, where the weather wasn’t quite the same as the sunny Bay of Plenty. I also managed to get in some work, including visiting a Tesla showroom and meeting with the International Transport Forum in Paris ahead of their Annual Summit in May.

Last week I was privileged to accept an invitation to speak to the Rotary Club of Tauranga. I talked about my portfolio responsibilities as Minister of Energy and Resources and Minister of Transport, and the exciting and innovative technological advancements that are happening in these fields. I think New Zealand can be at the forefront of these developments and I am looking at ways we can encourage local industries and entrepreneurs to lead the charge.

We also discussed the challenges facing our city. One issue that stood out was housing affordability. We have all seen the latest survey that puts Tauranga second only to Auckland when comparing house prices relative to income. In Tauranga, we are addressing this through the Tauranga Housing Accord signed in August last year, which aims to increase supply.

This comes at the same time Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced plans to streamline and simplify the Resource Management Act and address the unnecessary delays and costs caused by regulatory burdens. While not a silver bullet, these changes will help to ease pressure in the housing market.

I’m looking forward to another busy and exciting year in Parliament and keeping you up-to-date with what’s going on.