Lockwood & Friends Concert - July 2010
A few weeks ago I hosted my annual concert at the Whangaparaoa College auditorium, entertaining nearly 400 of Rodney's Senior Citizens.
The forty-member KingsWay School Choir accompanied me, performing a few of their own favourite items as well. As always, it was a privilege to sing with their talented Head of Music, Jo Clayton.
It was also an honour to welcome my special guests, Joan Kennaway and Opera North, who impressed the audience with songs from the popular musical, Les Miserables.
To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we performed some of the special songs from our wedding, my wife, Alexandra joining me on stage.
As always, my special thanks go to Catherine Smith from Age Concern Rodney for helping to coordinate the event. Official opening of the Mahurangi College Auditorium
I joined the Prime Minister at the official opening of the Mahurangi College Auditorium last month.
After guests were welcomed by Kaumatua Rev John Marsden, Principal David Macleod thanked the local community for their fundraising efforts and financial support for this project. The Prime Minister unveiled the plaque to declare the school Auditorium open.
The long-awaited Auditorium is a great example of how a community can work together to achieve a dream. It will be a great
asset to the college and the whole community.
Puhoi/Mahurangi West Connection
Recently I met with a group representing the Puhoi/Mahurangi West community regarding access onto the Northern Motorway at Puhoi.
I have taken up this matter on behalf of the people to try and ensure commonsense prevails and a motorway connection is provided at Puhoi. Warkworth Grey Power
Last month I had the pleasure to be invited to speak at the Annual General Meeting of the Warkworth & District Grey Power Association.
The group asked questions on local issues, including topics around the Supercity and recent Budget, in addition to my experiences as Speaker of the House.
I was able to reassure the group that the new Supercity structure will include Full Service Centres to deliver all Auckland Council services and some Council-Controlled Organisation (CCO) services. A Local Service Centre will be located in Orewa, with a Neighbourhood Service Centre based in Warkworth.
Official opening of the Weiti Wing at Bupa's Northhaven opening
I was invited to open the new Weiti Wing at BUPA's Northhaven Hospital in Whangaparaoa in June.
The new Wing is an important addition to Northhaven Hospital, which has served the area's older citizen's for over 25 years.
Top facilities are vitally important to ensure continued quality of life for our older folk. So it's great news for the community when private enterprise chooses to invest in local health-care facilities. At a cost of $3.2m, and taking over 9 months to construct, the Weiti Wing offers a well-equipped environment in comfortable surroundings, in addition to a whole range of specialised care options.
Youth Parliament - July 2010
On the 6-7 July, Parliament welcomed 122 young New Zealanders representing each sitting MP.
Youth Parliament focussed on a mock ‘age of majority' bill and Youth MPs had a lively debate on the single lawful age for driving, voting and drinking. They sat on select committees, attended caucus meetings, asked Cabinet Ministers oral questions and debated the bill in the Chamber.
Ben Porteous from Orewa College represented Rodney and had the opportunity to preside over a session of the Youth Parliament as Speaker.
Youth MPs are aged between 16-18 years old. Youth Parliament is held once every Parliamentary term and is a joint initiative of the Minister of Youth Affairs and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Health: Voluntary bonding keeps doctors and nurses in New Zealand
National's voluntary bonding scheme has accepted 501 new healthcare workers in its second year. There are now almost 1400 graduate doctors, nurses, and midwives in the scheme.
The scheme encourages doctors, nurses and midwives to establish careers in hard-to-staff communities and medical specialties, and aims to keep our home grown health graduates living and working in New Zealand. People who sign up to the scheme are offered student loan write offs, or cash incentives for those without student loans, if they work in these areas for three to five years.
This year South Canterbury and Taranaki District Health Boards were added to the list of hard to staff regions, and surgical nursing was added to the list of hard to staff specialties which qualify for the scheme.
Law & Order: Putting victims first
Victims of crime have been neglected for too long. National is committed to placing victims at the heart of the justice system.
We are enhancing services to victims of violent crimes with a range of initiatives that address the financial and emotional costs that fall on them. Convicted offenders will now pay a $50 offender levy towards these services.
Late last year, we began rolling out initiatives funded by this levy. From 1 July 2010 further measures will come into effect including enhanced homicide support services, a court service for victims of sexual violence, and new information sources for victims and their families.
Police will also be able to issue on-the-spot safety orders, giving immediate protection from dangerous situations for victims of domestic violence
Creating job opportunities
National is working hard to lift the long-term performance of the economy and create more jobs.
Our employment law package will reduce compliance costs, give businesses more confidence to take on new staff, and provide more choices for employees and employers.
We're extending the voluntary 90-day trial period to all employers so that every business and new employees can benefit from it. Changes to the personal grievance process will see employment problems resolved more quickly, costs reduced, and improved confidence in the system.
We're also looking at changing the law around sick days to enable employers, at their expense, to require a medical certificate from employees who take one sick day. Changes to the Holidays Act include giving employees the ability to trade one of their four weeks' annual leave for cash.
Our employment law package is one more step on the road to a growing economy and more jobs.
Boosting our Aquaculture Industry
National is backing our aquaculture sector to become a billion dollar industry by 2025. Achieving
this goal will require a three-fold boost in sales.
This week we announced the latest steps to support aquaculture in New Zealand. Decisions we're
making now about our new regime will help free up a bottleneck of outstanding aquaculture
applications. More flexible rules will encourage investment in the aquaculture sector.
Our changes will see minimal disruption to the industry, allow current aquaculture applications to be
completed, and new applications made. We're making use of our valuable natural resources in a
sustainable way to build the economy and create more jobs - especially in the region.