It was with enormous sadness that on Sunday evening I learnt of the deaths of three brave soldiers serving their country in Afghanistan. This brings to 10 the number of Kiwi soldiers that New Zealand has lost in Afghanistan since 2001.
Each soldier was a brave and courageous individual, who helped make a real difference for the people of Afghanistan. All of our soldiers can be very proud of what they have achieved there. Our troops are operating in difficult and dangerous circumstances. They are doing an admirable job, and as a nation we should be very proud of their efforts.
Tomorrow I will be attending the memorial service for Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, and Private Richard Harris at Burnham Military Camp near Christchurch.
Click here to watch my video on YouTube.
In my latest video, I talk some more about my admiration for the dedication of our soldiers operating in Afghanistan. I also talk about National's agenda to help businesses grow and succeed, and our Better Public Services targets to support the youngest and most vulnerable New Zealanders.
Agenda to help Kiwi businesses
Earlier this week I launched the second of the Government's six progress reports in our Business Growth Agenda.
The 'Building Innovation' report provides comprehensive details and updates on more than 50 Government initiatives to boost innovation and build stronger economic growth for New Zealand. We are keen to get your feedback to develop this report further.
Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.
Setting Better Public Services Targets
Delivering Better Public Services is one of National's four top priorities for this term in office.
To achieve this, we're demanding better results from our public services, by setting specific and measurable targets for the next five years.
This week the Government announced our action plan to help protect and support vulnerable children. It details how we'll achieve our four targets across the social sector to give every child the best possible start to life.
Focus on Science
Yesterday I delivered a speech to the Royal Society of New Zealand in Auckland. I spoke about the Government's commitment to science and innovation, which will help us take our best ideas off the lab bench and get them into the global marketplace faster.
Great news from Health
More New Zealand patients are getting the treatment they need faster under National. Under National, thirty per cent more patients are getting elective surgery, and in most District Health Boards, no patients are waiting longer than six months to receive the care they need. These are great improvements from our public health system.
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Our Welfare Reform changes that better support young people are starting to come into effect.
We're going to name the Advanced Technology Institute after the late Sir Paul Callaghan.
From my diary
Tomorrow I will be attending a memorial service at Burnham Military Camp for the three soldiers who died in Afghanistan last Sunday.
Next week I'm heading to Rarotonga for the Pacific Islands Forum. New Zealand has been chairing the Pacific Islands Forum for the last year, after we successfully hosted the event last year. I'm looking forward to catching up with other Pacific leaders while I'm away.