Plains Profile - December 2016
Year of international turmoil
Who could have predicted the happenings this year; the world has regularly experienced uncertainty, surprise and instability.
I think we all find it reassuring that here in New Zealand we are reaping the rewards of the stability and certainty and a Government that doesn’t thrust surprises upon people or businesses. Whether it’s Brexit, the surprise election of President Trump, the political shenanigans across the ditch in Australia or the appalling human carnage in the Middle East, New Zealand is an oasis of calm.
2017 may be another year of uncertainty in Europe, with elections due in France and Germany.
Our hearts go out to those who have suffered the devastating earthquakes that hit central New Zealand, crippling Kaikōura and parts of the Main Trunk Railway and SH 1. The quakes also affected Wellington, where a number of buildings suffered major damage and require demolition, but others came through unscathed. It’s been a very unsettling time in the wake of many aftershocks and the recovery work that lies ahead.
Parliament has passed three important pieces of legislation necessary for recovery. It recognises the extraordinary situation faced by earthquake-affected communities and will enable a smoother and more effective transition from the response phase to recovery.
The government has been quick to put in place a $5 million post-quake support package for the primary sector which will help with non-insurable assets such as tracks, on-farm bridges and water infrastructure.
New Zealand was the first developed country to negotiate and conclude a Free Trade Agreement with China. The deal has exceeded all expectations. Our goods exports to China have quadrupled to $9.2 billion and services exports have tripled to $3.0 billion. The recent announcement that we are about to begin talks to upgrade our trade agreement with China will only make things better.
In these days of rising protectionism around the world, this agreement showcases the importance of trade liberalisation and the wealth it creates for everyone. I am really pleased that our Prime Minister has spoken in favour of free trade at the recent APEC meeting in Peru, because a world that doesn’t trade will lead to the lowering of standards of living. I don’t think we want to spend less money on health and education services, but that’s what will happen unless we sell more stuff.
Happy and safe holidays
While Christmas is almost here, Parliament continues working well into December.
For many in our region, summer is the busiest time of the year. I hope you can take some time and enjoy this special time of year with family and friends.
Finally for 2016, I want to extend my very best wishes to you and yours for a safe, peaceful Christmas and New Year.