Bay News column

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Last week I talked about some of the things the National-led Government has been doing since the General Election one year ago, such as continuing to build a more competitive and productive economy and helping people into their first homes through our KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme.

We are focused on the things that matter to New Zealanders. I thought I’d mention a few of the things we have done that will make a positive difference for you and your family.

The well-being of young children and their families has always been a priority for this Government. Budget 2015 contained a $790 million package of measures aimed at reducing hardship among children living in some of New Zealand’s poorest families

Studies show that the best way out of poverty is for parents to be in work where possible, which is why we have increased work obligations for parents on a benefit. We have also provided more childcare support so it is easier for parents to be in work, education or training.

In April we extended New Zealand’s paid-parental leave scheme by two weeks to 16 weeks, and we will extend this by another two weeks next year.

We know that education is essential to help children get ahead and ensure they can reach their potential. We have invested an extra $686 million over the next four years in primary and secondary education. We have almost doubled investment in early childhood education and increased the participation rate.

From 1 July, all children under-13 became eligible for free GP visits. This is another election promise that we have delivered on.

We have two more years left this term, and I look forward to continuing to be part of a Government that is committed to supporting parents and children so our kids get the best start to life.