22 January 2010
Happy New Year!
It’s great to be back on deck after a few weeks’ break. I hope you managed to get a bit of time off over Christmas and find some decent weather.
We’ve had a busy start to 2010 with our first Cabinet meeting of the year, and the visit of Prince William.
I really enjoyed meeting the Prince and spending some time with him at official events while he was here. His visit provided a tangible sense of our ongoing links to the monarchy, and a great chance for New Zealanders to see and get to know this fine young man. And it really added to the official opening of the Supreme Court.
THREE STRIKES – SAFER COMMUNITIES FOR KIWI FAMILIES
On Tuesday I announced that National and Act have agreed on law changes that ensure the country’s worst repeat violent offenders will receive the maximum allowable sentence for their crimes.
The new sentencing regime in our Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill includes a “three-strikes” policy. This will target violent offenders who show continued disregard for the law.
The first offence will bring a standard sentence and warning. The second offence will bring a jail sentence, in most cases, with no parole and a further warning. The third offence, will result in the offender being given the maximum sentence in jail for the crime, with no parole.
The new regime will help keep the worst repeat offenders behind bars for longer. It will also deter criminals from committing further crime by escalating the severity of their sentences.
National is determined to make our communities safer for Kiwi families. We are determined to reduce the number of crime victims. And we are determined to make life tougher for violent criminals. The Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill is an important step towards that goal.
BUILDING A WORLD-CLASS TAX SYSTEM
Last year National managed to guide New Zealand through the global recession while living up to our election commitments. In 2010, we’re focused on unleashing New Zealand’s potential for growth, and lifting the wages of New Zealanders.
On Wednesday, the Tax Working-Group issued its report on New Zealand’s tax system. The report identifies several issues with the structure, coherence, and sustainability of the current tax system. It also puts forward some options to fix them.
Tax policy can play an important role in lifting economic growth and productivity. We want to make sure our tax system rewards effort, encourages savings, and helps families to get ahead. Fairness is a big part of that. We will carefully consider the Working-Group’s report as part of our decision-making for Budget 2010.
BOOSTING TOURISM IN OUR REGIONS
Yesterday I announced that eight tourism marketing groups around the country will share $5 million in tourism funding to market their regions. This will be matched with funding from Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) and the private sector to create a $10 million marketing fund, aimed largely at Australia.
This joint venture fund will see RTOs and Tourism NZ working together to maximise their marketing impact. It’s a great opportunity for our regions to use their distinctive selling points to attract Australian visitors, while tying their marketing in with our 100% Pure brand.
FROM THE DIARY
I really enjoyed spending some time in Christchurch yesterday, officially opening AMI Stadium. Stadium Christchurch – as it will be known for the 2011 Rugby World Cup – is the first of New Zealand’s major stadiums to complete redevelopment for the tournament.
I also visited QEII stadium one year out from the 2011 International Paralympic World Championships. As patron, I’m looking forward to the Championships and to watching our disabled athletes compete with the very best paralympians in the world.
I’m in Ratana today with several Cabinet ministers and National MPs, to celebrate the life of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana and the birth of the Ratana movement.
On Sunday I’ll be at the Aotea Centre in Auckland to mark the 60th anniversary of India’s Republic Day with some of our Indian communities, before heading to the Trans-Tasman Touch Rugby tournament at Waitakere’s Trusts Stadium.