Our Week That Was series gives you a round-up of all the achievements, announcements, and other political goings-on around Parliament and across the country over the past week. We're proud of all we're doing to make New Zealand a great place to live - and we want to share it with you!
Bula vinaka! (It's Fijian language week!) We were nonstop this week, from cracking down on predatory lenders, to delivering a strong surplus, to extending our nation's transport links.
Kris Faafoi, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, joined our Prime Minister to announce tougher measures to regulate loan sharks.
Through capping total interest and fees, introducing tougher penalties, and raising the bar for lenders to register as a Financial Service Provider, we're protecting Kiwi families from the predatory practices which can leave them trapped in debt spirals and poverty.
We've consistently said that we are managing the books carefully and growing our economy steadily and safely - and the recent news that we have delivered a healthy surplus well ahead of target proves exactly that! The surplus means we have more money left over for a rainy day, and to make targeted, planned investments going forward.
We're delivering a significant upgrade to the Wairarapa rail line, as part of our Government’s record $16.9 billion transport investment through the National Land Transport Programme aimed at supporting the regions, making it easier to get around our cities and saving lives. Passengers have a right to expect a safe and reliable service, and we know this investment will ensure the long-term future of this route.
Minister of Transport Phil Twyford said this investment is vital to unlocking Wairarapa’s potential for economic growth in business and tourism. “It also highlights the importance our Government places on public transport."
We rolled out a significant pan to improve the state of our waterways over the next five years.
“Clean water is our birthright. Local rivers and lakes should be clean enough for our children to swim in, and put their head under, without getting crook,” Environment Minister David Parker said.
New rules will be in place by 2020 to stop the degradation of freshwater quality - a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and a new National Environmental Standard. There will be a focus on at-risk catchments so as to halt the decline.
We also acknowledge that Māori have rights and interests in freshwater, and we are committed to a substantive discussion on how to address these interests by taking practical steps to address constraints on Māori land development.
This week was also Mental Health Awareness Week. We hope everyone got the chance to check-in on their own mental health, and have a moment to connect with nature - "Let nature in" was this year's theme.
The week was also a great opportunity for us to celebrate the steps we've already taken for mental health in Aotearoa, and to raise awareness of the new services now available to people around the country.
These services include a new drug and detox facility in Auckland, and a pilot programme for free counselling for 18-25 year olds. We also took the time to highlight our Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, which due to report back with comprehensive findings on the state of New Zealand's mental health in late November.
Later in the week, we announced a new strategy to help women and girls succeed in sport. This was presented by our PM and Grant Robertson in his role as Minister for Sport and Recreation.
Our Government is working hard to tackle gender inequality in Aotearoa and to help even the playing field.
That's it for this week! Tune in next week to keep up-to-date on all the latest buzz around the Beehive and everything else happening around the country.