07 May 2010
Visiting Our Troops
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VISITING OUR TROOPS
I had a really interesting trip to Afghanistan this week. It was good to spend some time with our servicemen and women in Kabul and Bamyan. They're doing a great job, helping to build schools and hospitals, and protect the Afghan people.
I visited the bazaar in Bamyan, where I met some of the locals, sampled some delicious food, and tried on the local headgear. I was also given a mat with a kiwi sewn into it. People there are grateful for our support, and New Zealanders can be really proud of our troops.
FAREWELLING THREE YOUNG MEN
Last week I attended the funerals of the three young servicemen killed on Anzac Day, when their Iroquois helicopter crashed on the way to Anzac commemorations in Wellington.
They were three great guys, and they were far too young to die. At the funerals there was an outpouring of grief from their friends and families. It was very moving and I felt privileged to be there. I also visited the injured airman in Wellington Hospital.
BUDGET 2010: BUILDING THE RECOVERY
I'm looking forward to the Budget on May 20. It focuses on building our economy so you and your family can get ahead. Economic growth is the only way we can create the jobs, the higher incomes, and the better living standards Kiwis deserve.
This week we made two pre-Budget announcements.
Screening for Bowel Cancer
Health Minister Tony Ryall announced funding for a bowel cancer screening pilot on Wednesday. Too many people are dying of bowel cancer. It's the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand.
A nationwide screening programme could save lives, by identifying those who have bowel cancer sooner. We are investing $24 million over four years in the pilot.
National has kept its promise to deliver better, sooner, more convenient healthcare to New Zealanders, and I'm delighted that the pilot will begin next year.
Investing in Families
Yesterday I launched Whanau Ora with Hon Tariana Turia. Whanau Ora is designed to help families in need take control of their future.
At the moment, families get help from different government agencies on different issues. Whanau Ora is about taking a more coordinated approach.
A Whanau Ora provider could work with a family to find out what help they need, and then together with the family develop a plan to get them back on track.
We're investing $134.3 million in Whanau Ora over the next four years. I believe it will result in better outcomes for families in need.
MAKING OUR COMMUNITIES SAFER
One of the reasons National was voted into office was because New Zealanders trusted us to take a hard line on criminals. This week the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill passed its second reading.
This new legislation will ensure that the country's worst repeat violent offenders will receive the maximum sentence possible for their crimes. It includes aspects of ACT's three strikes policy, targeting those who consistently pose a threat to the safety and security of others.
I am determined to make our communities safer for Kiwi families.
FROM MY DIARY
Today I've been in Auckland, opening the third stage of the ASB Showgrounds development, and the new library at Massey University's Albany campus.
Tomorrow I'm off to Masterton for the Lower North Island National Party Conference.
New video series: John responds to questions posed on his social media platforms. Click to watch on YouTube. This episode: catching up with Australia, the price of cigarettes and why we won't delay the ETS.Click here for photos from my Gallipoli visit.