Kaiaua Compass

Columns
Wednesday, May 10, 2017


My first responsibility as a Member of Parliament will always be to the good people of the Coromandel electorate who have elected me. However am delighted and excited to have been sworn as the Minister of Statistics as well as Associate Minister of both Immigration and Environment. It was a thrill to get a phone call from Prime Minister Bill English inviting me to become a member of his executive team. These are important and topical policy portfolio responsibilities and I’m very much looking forward to getting my teeth into the news roles. 
Doing so means I will be more involved with the development and implementation of both existing and new policies.  I am very proud to be part of Bill English’s revamped team that will take us into the September election.


The Forecast is for Rain
We’ve had more than our fair share of rain over the last couple of months and there have been a number of inconvenient road closures on the Seabird Coast. On the Hauraki Plains a number of farmers are still grappling with the impacts of slow to clear surface flooding. By and large the flood protection system worked as it should have and we saw water in designated flood plain areas where usually we don’t. What the recent heavy weather has reminded us all is that systems need to be constantly maintained and monitored. Just because they aren’t used every season doesn’t mean they won’t be needed in the future. Erratic weather patterns seem to be more common than in past years. That just means that careful planning and investment in maintenance is even more important.


Huge Infrastructure Investment
The announcement that this year’s Budget will allocate a further $11 billion in new capital infrastructure is very welcome. The final details won’t be released until later this month in the Budget but the announcement signals the Government’s strong commitment to accelerating much needed infrastructure investment. It’s essential that this new funding unlocks both local and private capital as well to leverage the taxpayer’s contribution to big new projects even more.


This is a massive increase and the largest capital investment commitment by any Government since the 1970s.


Such a huge commitment is only possible because of our strong and growing economy. The two are linked absolutely. Without a strong economy there simply wouldn’t be the capacity to invest so heavily in infrastructure let alone the ongoing investment in education, health and social services.


Needless to say I’m looking forward to the exact details when Finance Minister Steven Joyce reads the budget later this month.