The Ross Report
Happy New Year
Happy New Year to you. I hope you had an enjoyable break over summer with your friends and family. I also hope 2015 proves to be a good year for you.
To the kick the year off properly, on Sunday 15 February I am hosting the Botany Summer BBQ that I hope you can join us for. The event is being held from 1pm to 4pm at the Flat Bush School Hall and will include lots of activities for families, live entertainment, as well as complimentary food and refreshments.
A copy of our flyer is below and a link to our Facebook event page can be found here.
It is going to be a fun event – I hope to see you there.
State of the Nation
Today our Prime Minister delivered his first speech for the year to outline some of the progress the Government has made as well as plans for the future.
New Zealand is in good shape and getting better. We are making great strides towards building a stronger, more prosperous country – a country where we can have a great lifestyle and earn a good income that compares well with the rest of the world.
That progress is due to the hard work and positive attitude of New Zealanders. It’s also because of the stability, cohesion and confidence that’s come from six years of strong and stable government.
As a Government we are going to continue to focus on four key priorities to improve our country:
- Responsibly managing the Government’s finance – just like you’d expect us to.
- Building a more productive and competitive economy – because that’s the best way to create more jobs and increase your wages.
- Delivering better public services – particularly to improve the lives of the most vulnerable New Zealanders.
- Continuing to support the rebuilding of Christchurch – because we pledged we would stand with the city and we are.
As part of his speech, the Prime Minister also outlined plans we have for ensuring low-income and vulnerable New Zealanders get more housing support that better meets their needs.
A full copy of the Prime Minister’s speech can be found here.
Minister requests review of summer speed campaigns
A topic that kept many a conversation going over summer was the decision by NZ Police to implement a “zero tolerance on speed” campaign. This campaign led to a lot of public feedback about the confusing nature of the campaign with strong public support for the previous 4km/hour speed tolerance from past holiday periods.
Dangerous driving is not okay. Drivers that speed in a reckless manner put lives at risk. But any campaign against speeding and dangerous drivers must also maintain the support of the wider public to be effective.
I think our men and women in the NZ Police do an excellent job. We are lucky to have thousands of dedicated officers serving us across the country. But clear and understandable enforcement campaigns are also important. That is why the Police Minister Michael Woodhouse has asked the Police to undertake a review of the public messages sent out by the Police around the summer road safety campaign.
It is important that the Police and public work together to ensure our roads are a safe place to be, especially over the summer while there are more people on the road. Hopefully this review will lead to future improvements.
Back to School
It’s that time of the year again - the beginning of a new school year. I thought it would be worthwhile touching on some of the work we are doing in the education portfolio.
Education has been a core priority of this Government over the past six years. Education is the key to lifting children and families out of poverty, setting them up with lifelong opportunities and improving their long term prospects.
One of the benefits of a strong economy heading into surplus is that we can afford better quality health and education services for all New Zealanders. As a country we are seeing NCEA achievement rates increase, more children attending early childhood education and better information provided to parents through National Standards reporting.
We are determined to build on these results and continue raising achievement for all students. Here are some of the plans for future education policy:
- Investing in Education Success (IES) - We want career paths for teachers within the classroom, and we want them sharing best practice across schools and providing expert skills to help raise student achievement. We also want principals supporting each other and struggling schools with proven leadership skills.
- Auckland schools - $350m over 4 years to build new schools and classrooms to address the roll growth pressures coming to Auckland.
- Sign language - $11m over 4 years to help support deaf children, their families, and their schools.
- Asian languages for a trading nation - $10m for a contestable fund over 5 years to increase Asian languages in schools.
- Special education - Our Government will invest up to $18m a year over 4 years to provide 800,000 more teacher aide hours each year to support children who have conditions that affect their learning – such as Dyslexia, ADHD, and Aspergers.