Nikki’s News – March 2012
Greetings, I have now returned to my monthly newsletter. As the recently appointed Chair of Education and Science Select Committee, I have had the privilege of attending various events relating to education. Earlier this month, I had to opportunity to join several of my colleagues, including the Prime Minister, at Orientation Week at the University of Auckland.
Over the last couple of months, it has been exciting to see Auckland become a real events destination. Post Rugby World Cup we have hosted the Volvo Ocean Race. It is also encouraging that we have secured the hosting of the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Championship as well as the 2017 World Masters Games, an event which is projected to attract more than 35,000 visitors to our city.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the Chinese New Year festivities marking the Year of the Dragon with the Prime Minister and some of my fellow National MPs. The three day festival held in Albert Park not only marked the shift from one year to another, but was also a celebration of the rich cultural diversity in Auckland. Events like this and the Pasifika Festival are great events for demonstrating Auckland’s rich cultural diversity, and present good opportunities for us to learn more about our Asia Pacific neighbours.
Walk to Work Day
This past week I had the pleasure of participating in the “Walk to Work” where I walked to breakfast in Pigeon Park from Ponsonby. The 6K walk to K Road was an enjoyable alternative to my normal running routine, and was a great way to start off my morning! This event encourages people to walk more in their daily lives, and especially hopes to inspire people to incorporate walking into their daily commute.
Big Gay Out
In February, I had the opportunity to attend the Big Gay Out festival held annually in Coyle Park. It was great to see all the support Aucklanders have for our LGBT community, and I’d like to give a big thanks to everyone who came out, and to all of the National volunteers and the six MPs who attended. It was fantastic to see all the support that the Auckland Pride Festival has garnered and I hope that support continues to mount and that we can see the festival in the near future.
Creating the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
On 1 July, the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will merge:
- Ministry of Economic Development
- Department of Labour
- Ministry of Science and Innovation
- Department of Building and Housing.
The new ministry will make it easier for New Zealand businesses to engage with government, rather than dealing separately with a number of different agencies when they are seeking advice or support.
Keeping our young people in education
More of our young people are benefiting from Youth Guarantee. A total of 9616 training places will be created in 2012 for 16 and 17 year olds under National’sYouth Guarantee Scheme.
And enrolments have trebled this year at our 16 trades academies with 1936 learners. This is a huge increase on the 625 who participated last year. Numbers are set to increase further with another five academies opening later this year.
The Youth Guarantee Scheme, which now encompasses trades academies and Youth Training fees-free tertiary places, gives our young people the opportunity to gain practical skills and a career.
National is investing more than $100 million in the scheme this year to continue our focus on engaging youth at risk of dropping out of school.
We’re changing the give way rule
We’re making changes to give way rules on March 25 and it’s really important to be prepared. We’re changing the law to make it simpler, bringing us into line with the rest of the world. There are two key changes. If you’re turning right, give way to vehicles turning left; and at a T-intersection, give way to vehicles on the continuing road.
Broadband to be rolled out to hundreds more schools
National announced this week that a further 693 schools will be connected to the ultra-fast broadband network. We are investing $1.35 billion on the ultra-fast broadband initiative and $300 million on the rural broadband initiative.
By July next year, more than 410,000 students at over 1500 schools around the country will be connected under both initiatives.
Ultra-fast broadband is a vital part of National’s plan to build a more competitive and productive economy – one of the four key priorities for our second term.
By the end of 2015, 97.7 per cent of schools and 99.9 per cent of students will receive ultra-fast fibre enabling speeds of up to 100Mbps.
The remaining schools in the most remote locations will receive a high-speed wireless or satellite connection. Our commitment means no school will miss out once the roll-out is complete.
Submission in Support of a New Great Barrier Island Rural Broadband & Telecommunications Facility
Earlier this month I was pleased to make a submission to Auckland Council in support of Vodafone New Zealand Ltd’s application for a resource consent to be granted to construct a new rural broadband and telecommunications facility on Great Barrier Island.
The new facility would provide a communications tower and support equipment, and would service the communities of Claris, Okupu and surrounding areas. This new facility will enable tourists and residents on the Island to have cell phone and internet communication while staying in these areas. It will also help children living on the Island to develop their digital literacy skills in a way not previously possible.
There are also hundreds of holiday home and full time residence owners on Great Barrier Island who will also benefit greatly from this package. I believe that if people are able to work from their holiday homes, and stay extra nights on the Island because of it, then the local economy could benefit from this.
Have your say
Member of Parliament for Auckland Central
Chair of Education and Science Select Committee