It was Fieldays this week and we were firmly focused on our regions and rural communities. We progressed work on the Sustainable Land Use package, invested in the Hawke's Bay through the Provincial Growth Fund, and celebrated substantial growth in our primary sector. It's clear - we're doing the work now to support our rural communities for generations to come.
We met with people in our rural communities at Fieldays
The Prime Minister opened Fieldays on Wednesday this week.
Fieldays is a real highlight in the calendar for people from both town and country. It’s an opportunity for the Government to listen to what matters to our productive sector, to see the innovations that we are rightly proud of, and share in the celebration of exceptional value growth ($5.7bn export record in March!) It's also a time to demonstrate the Government's backing for our country's primary sectors.
Watch below to hear from Labour MPs Kiri Allan and Kieran McAnulty who were on the ground at Fieldays this week
We expanded mental health support in the regions
We've been told time and time again that mental health is a major issue for rural communities - especially how hard it is to get proper support when you live in a rural or isolated area. We're committed to changing that - and making sure everyone who needs help gets it, no matter where they live.
That's why our Wellbeing Budget is making the biggest investment in mental health ever, including $20.8 million in phone and online services so you can get help even if you can't make it out to see the GP.
We supported farmers to use land sustainably and productively
While at Fieldays, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor MP and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke more about the focus of the Sustainable Land Use package, announced as part of the Wellbeing Budget. This package is a great way our Government is providing on-the-ground support to help our farmers and growers lift their environmental sustainability, unlock more value for their hard work, and improve water quality in at-risk catchments and wetlands.
Through this package, up to 2,200 farmers will get help to reduce their environmental footprint and boost their bottom line over the next four years.
We will achieve this is by using farmer cluster groups to share insights and best practice, and through investing $35 million in providing practical advice, information and tools - and those are just two of the ways.
We recorded another year of strong primary sector export growth
Our primary sector continues to surpass expectations, for a second year in a row.
The Agriculture Minister released the numbers as part of a Ministry for Primary Industries report at Fieldays.
These numbers show a second straight year of substantial export growth, with significant gains across most primary industry products.
Revenue from New Zealand’s primary sector exports is forecast to grow 7.1 per cent on the previous financial year, and export performance is up nearly $7.5 billion over the last two years.
That’s incredibly impressive considering the weakening global economic environment and a rising sense of uncertainty in global markets.
While the big picture is very bright, we know that for many producers it has been a tough year. We’ve had regions affected by drought, fires, biosecurity responses like M.bovis and fruit flies and also untimely cool temperatures affecting some fruit yields. Our producers should be really proud of their resilience and ongoing high performance.
By continuing to focus on high value, sustainably produced food and fibre, we’ll have more strong years ahead.
We reopened the Napier-Wairoa rail line in Hawke's Bay
Hawke's Bay's Napier-Wairoa rail line was closed in 2012. Now, thanks to our Government's Provincial Growth Fund, it's the first mothballed rail line to be reopened in 15 years.
It's an incredibly important investment for the Hawke's Bay - helping to facilitate the forestry industry in the area, which will bring huge economic benefits to the whole region. We will avoid 15,000 truck journeys each year on the region’s roads when the train services are fully up and running, , and allow forestry harvests around Wairoa to get to Port of Napier safely and efficiently.
The Government has invested more than $1 billion for rail in Budget 2019, and will continue to build the reliable and resilient rail network that New Zealanders deserve. This investment is just one of many made through the Government's Provincial Growth Fund, which is all about investing in the growth of our regions.
We ramped up building state houses
The building of state houses has ramped up nine fold in the past three years. Housing NZ is now building 2,700 new homes, with 900 homes in the regions
Our Government is committed to addressing the long-term issues New Zealand faces.
However, we know the housing crisis was created over a decade and isn’t going to be fixed overnight. It’s going to take a concerted effort over many years to end homelessness.
We also know that the best way we can take the heat off the rental market is to build affordable homes, and that the best way we can end homelessness and stop people falling through the cracks is to build more state houses. We’re getting on with doing both.