We're taking action on child poverty, getting Kiwis into the trades, and more...
1. Putting free healthy lunches in schools
Child poverty is a complex issue that isn't going to be fixed overnight, but our Lunches in Schools programme is already positively affecting the lives of our kids.
7,000 students in 31 schools are already receiving their lunch every school day thanks to our Lunches in Schools programme - and by 2021, that'll be extended to 21,000 students in 120 schools.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins visited Flaxmere Primary this week and saw firsthand the difference a good, nutritious lunch will make kids and their learning.
Our Lunches in Schools programme is another example of how we're getting on with the job and working to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.
2. Getting people into trades training
We're making sure Kiwi workers and businesses have the skills they need to succeed.
This week we passed the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill. This will give Kiwis will have more opportunities to upskill, no matter where they are in their careers.
Making the major changes to the way the vocational education system works will provide more opportunities to improve the skills of all New Zealanders, give employers more say on the types and level of skills they need and support a growing economy. It's one more way we’re tackling the long-term challenges facing New Zealand, and preparing Kiwis for the future of work.
3. Keeping New Zealanders safe
We invested in a strong border to fight international organised crime and keep New Zealand communities safe - and we're seeing results.
Last year, Customs made a record number of illicit drug seizures – off-shore and at our borders. These seizures helped to protect our communities and prevented hundreds of millions of dollars in social harm.
We made a record investment in Customs, to fight organised crime, through Budget ‘19. We also gave Customs the cash injection they needed to boost their capabilities and disrupt criminal networks offshore, stopping drug smuggling attempts before they enter our territory. Customs officials working on the Ship to Shore project, are collaborating with law enforcement agencies in other countries to intercept illicit drugs and precursors before they are sent from overseas ports and airports.
Our focus on preventing illegal drugs from reaching communities runs alongside our health-based approach to drugs, which includes putting more resources into addiction treatment, detoxification and residential care services for New Zealanders who are struggling with drug and alcohol issues. For this to be effective, it’s important for our law enforcement agencies like Customs to reduce the supply of drugs like meth and MDMA, and take a hard line against the organised criminal groups that push these products.
4. Backing the regions
We announced funding for Northland this week to set up temporary water supplies in Kaikohe and Kaitaia - where drought is biting hard. This project will ensure economic activity remains under way in Northland, and that residents in these communities can continue their lives without significant hardship and disruption. Once the immediate water supply issues have been addressed, officials will work with the Northland councils to determine what is required to prevent a similar situation in future.
We also announced further help for the Southland and Otago regions to speed up recovery efforts from the floods, including activating Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) to help with the clean-up in Fiordland, Southland, and the Clutha district in Otago.
We know the floods have put pressure on local communities and we're committed to helping them get through it. This funding will mean jobseekers can be employed to help clear debris, including trees and plastic, repair fences and buildings, and support general clean-up. Emergency services have also been on the ground supporting the response and the Government will continue to assist where needed.