In the last fortnight a number of significant events have been held locally.
It was great to go to a large fundraising dinner at the Tauranga Racecourse where about $70,000 was raised for Kidney Kids and the Bethlehem Foundation and its educational purposes. I also enjoyed speaking at the launch of the Sky Hawk fighter jet at Classic Flyers Museum. As I said on the day, I was glad to have played a role in getting it here and its journey to Tauranga is a testament to the persistence shown by the team at Classic Flyers. In my view this museum has become one of the top attractions in our city, both for locals and for tourists.
Of special significance was the signing on Thursday of Ngati Ranganui’s Deed of Settlement of Historical Treaty of Waitangi claims. Ngati Ranginui, along with other Tauranga iwi, suffered some of the worst grievances in New Zealand’s history, so it was good to be part of a day that mended that and allows for a positive future. I am optimistic about the opportunities for economic development in our area that will arise from the Crown’s financial redress to Ngati Ranginui.
Supporting our rural sector
Last week was Fieldays, the largest agricultural showcase in the Southern Hemisphere. It provides a great opportunity to look at the contribution of New Zealand’s rural sector.
We know farming is the backbone of our economy. The rural sector is a key part of National’s plan to build a stronger economy, create more jobs, and raise incomes.
We are working hard to support our primary sector and rural families and communities. We have more vets, doctors, and midwives in our rural areas through our voluntary bonding scheme. Our rural broadband initiative will deliver much faster broadband to rural New Zealand.
National is encouraging research and innovation in agriculture through the Primary Growth Partnership. This government-industry initiative is showing great results so far, with projects underway across a range of sectors.
We have allocated $35 million to the Irrigation Acceleration Fund to help get irrigation projects underway, and proposed future investment of up to $400 million of equity in regional irrigation projects.
We’ve also invested in rural infrastructure and roading to improve connections and services for our rural communities. It’s important that our producers can move their goods efficiently around the country. And to enable our Kiwi exporters to successfully compete in the global marketplace we are building a more competitive and productive economy, and pursuing an aggressive trade agenda.
These initiatives are being supported by moves to break down barriers to growth, such as improving the tax system and cutting red tape.
We’ve cut the company tax rate to 28 per cent, implemented across-the-board personal tax cuts, and reduced ACC levies for farmers. We’ve also been making changes to the Resource Management Act to make it easier to do business.
To ensure we have the most efficient dairy industry in New Zealand, we are introducing changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act. Our bill enables Fonterra to set up the Trading Among Farmers (TAF) scheme, and creates transparency around the setting of farm gate milk prices. This will promote a competitive and innovative dairy industry.
This bill is crucial to ensure the continuing growth of an efficient and innovative New Zealand dairy sector.
National and rural New Zealand share a proud history. We will continue to support and invest in our rural sector, to grow our economy and create jobs.