Coastal News

Columns
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New responsibilities
It was a great honour being sworn in as a Minister of the Crown by the Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy. My feet have hardly touched the ground over the last couple of weeks and I’m quickly getting to grips with my new roles as Minister of Statistics and Associate Minister for Environment and of Immigration. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Cabinet Minister from our electorate. The last was Graeme Lee back during the time Jim Bolger was Prime Minister.  Needless to say, my first priority is always as the Member of Parliament for Coromandel and I hope my new roles will mean I can work even harder to ensure our region is well represented in Wellington. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.


Signs of a strong economy
Breaking the cycle of welfare dependency is a priority for Government. It’s an area where we’re starting to see some real progress being made. There has been a big reduction in the number of people receiving a ‘main’ benefit and now numbers are at the lowest since 1997. One of the positive outcomes for beneficiaries is the upgraded case management system. It means that beneficiaries now get extra advice and guidance. It’s great to see this targeted support is helping more families into independence and better lives for these families.


What we have learnt over the years is that supporting parents, particularly when they’re young, into work helps break the cycle of welfare dependence. It ensures better life outcomes for both them and their children and reduces the long-term cost to the taxpayer. It’s a win- win situation all round.


Wage Boost for Care Workers
‘About time’ is what most people have been saying after an historic agreement was reached to give some of the country’s lowest paid care workers a share in a $2 billion pay equity settlement over the next five years.


It recognises the work carried out by the 55,000 workers in aged and disability residential care, plus home and community support services across the country. From July 1 this year dedicated and predominantly female workforce who are mostly on or around minimum wage will receive a pay rise of between 15 and 50 per cent depending on their qualifications and or experience. I haven’t yet spoken to anyone who thinks this is a bad thing.


Good news for all and ‘about time’.