Taking up a new portfolio in the world of politics means getting up to speed as quickly as possible.
Since January, in between listening to weeks of submissions on two of the bills replacing the Resource Management Act, I’ve been busy as National’s new Spokesperson for Conservation meeting with stakeholders.
This includes groups like Forest and Bird Aotearoa, one of New Zealand’s independent conservation organisations and Fish & Game NZ, which manages, maintains and enhances sports fish and game birds, and their habitats.
As keen tramper I’ve long been aware of the work these organisations and others do, but meetings with them plus others, have been very enlightening.
So too, have the submissions received for the proposed Natural and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill.
As an Environment Select Committee member, I already have the first detailed reports from the hearings to go through with officials, and I want to take this opportunity to thank all submitters for their input.
Meeting stakeholders, receiving public feedback and ideas, are crucial in the development of policy and make for better legislation all-round.
As 2023 is an election year, policies are naturally at the top of the agenda.
Thanks to the feedback I receive, and our recent round of Taranaki-King Country annual meetings, National supporters are wanting more as we head toward Election Day on October 14.
Should we become the Government, we already have five immediate priorities with plans under each, of how these priorities will be achieved.
In the No 1 spot is reducing the cost of living, quickly followed by lifting incomes; building a resilient infrastructure; restoring law and order; and delivering better health and education services.
The detail of these is available on our website — www.national.org.nz/priorities
But it includes FamilyBoost a tax rebate of up to $75 a week toward household childcare costs for families earning up to $180,000 so parents can afford to work; our Combatting Youth Offending Plan targeting serious offenders; Backing Police/Tackling Gangs plan with greater powers for Police, our Welfare that Works policy and, last but not least, unlocking economic growth.
We’ve also been clear about what we won’t do like taking water assets from communities, under Labour’s flawed Three Waters policy.
Our Local Water Done Well policy keeps drinking, storm and wastewater management where it belongs — local — rather than under four co-governed mega entities.
And while we’re cleaning house, we’ll get rid of Auckland’s Regional Fuel Tax and the Clean Car Discount Scheme (ute tax).
In the first part of our national education policy, Teaching the Basics Brilliantly, we intend to rewrite the New Zealand Curriculum to detail non-negotiable knowledge and skills primary and secondary schools must cover in reading, writing, mathematics and science.
Once world leaders in education, our current state is alarming, with a NCEA pilot revealing two-thirds of students are unable to meet minimum standards in reading, writing and maths.
But these are just a start, there’s a lot more to come.
I think many Kiwis would agree — we’ve been subjected to a government which has for the better part of six years, made plenty of announcements with little to nothing to show for them — apart from the colossal price tag.
Above all else, that staggering spending needs to stop — our first priority if National becomes the next Government.
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