Weekend Sun column

Friday, July 17, 2015

Last week the Government released the six-monthly snapshot of how we are tracking against our Better Public Services targets.

In 2012 the Prime Minister announced 10 challenging targets for the public sector to achieve over the next few years. These focussed on complex issues including welfare dependency, crime, child abuse, and educational achievement.

People deserve to know whether or not they are getting quality public services for their taxes. We need to ensure that the more than $70 billion a year we spend is actually making a difference in the areas that matter.

The latest snapshot shows that we are mostly on track. We have significantly improved health outcomes, more young people are achieving higher qualifications, and crime has fallen.

National is achieving record results in health. One of the targets is to have 95 per cent of eight-month-old babies immunised by June 2017. Since this was introduced, the proportion of immunised 8-month olds has increased from 84 per cent to 92.9 per cent.

There are three Better Public Service targets relating to education, and we have made meaningful progress in all of these. The number of 18 year-olds with NCEA Level 2, the basic requirement for many jobs, has increased by almost 7 per cent, and the improvements are even greater for Maori and Pasifika students.

New Zealanders deserve to feel safe in their homes and communities. Our target of a 20 per cent reduction in the total recorded crime rate by June 2018 (compared to June 2011). Last year this was readjusted from 15 per cent, as that target had already been met. The latest update shows an 18 per cent reduction since 2011.

Our challenge is to keep progressing. There’s still a lot of work to do and National will continue to focus on the things that matter to New Zealanders.