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!
It's been another busy week here in the Beehive!
- We saw an increase in GDP
- We increased the refugee quota
- We celebrated Suffrage Day
- We began redressing the wrongs that resulted from the previous Government's Housing NZ meth testing
- We introduced a bill to freeze MPs' pay
- and so much more...
It's been a week of progress and positive change for New Zealand across the board. Let's take a closer look at all the things we've achieved this week for New Zealanders...
On Thursday, it was revealed that our GDP has grown by 1%. This is a huge win for our economy, and for New Zealanders. We have maintained from the start that our policies will enable us to grow and develop our economy, and make sure that the rewards of this economy are shared fairly, benefiting all New Zealanders.
It's great to see indisputable proof of what we've been saying all along - that real, positive change is achievable by making progress in key areas such as health, education, infrastructure - while managing the government books responsibly.
Another major win came in the form of our announcement regarding the refugee quota. We were proud to announce that we are increasing the annual refugee quota from 1,000 to 1,500 by 2020. This is the right thing to do. It fulfils New Zealand’s obligation to do our bit and provide a small number of people, displaced by war and disaster each year, a place to call home.
Refugee populations already here in New Zealand have proved time and time again that they contribute so much to their communities, and to New Zealand's society as a whole. We're looking forward to welcoming our future colleagues, neighbours, schoolmates, and friends to our country.
Why 2020? Well, put simply, we need to make sure the resettlement process is done right, and that we have the right facilities and services ready to go. We are proud of our reputation as a world-leader in effective refugee resettlement.
Our 125th anniversary of women winning the right to vote was a major milestone, and celebrated up and down the country! Here at Parliament, we saw a reenactment of the delivery of the suffrage petition in 1893.
Acting Minister for Women Eugenie Sage made the opening speech, followed by a number of women who shared their stories of their own fights for workplace equality and equal pay. Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway also spoke to the gathered crowd, where he announced we're introducing the Equal Pay Amendment Bill, making it easier for workers to make a pay equity claim.
It was a great day of celebration around the country, with suffrage events from Whangarei to Dunedin. UN Women shared a video of a conversation between our Prime Minister and the previous Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark, discussing the experience of being a woman in New Zealand's top job.
The Prime Minister also made a more light-hearted cameo in the Funny Girls Suffragette Special, which you can check out here!
The previous Government's response to methamphetamine contamination was a moral and fiscal failure - a failure that had major, far-reaching consequences for hundreds of Kiwis. Our report, released this week, shows that around 800 tenants suffered by either losing their tenancies, losing their possessions, being suspended from the public housing waiting list, negative effects on their credit ratings or, in the worst cases, being made homeless.
We're committing to doing what's right, and redressing the hardships these tenants faced. This will be done on a case-by-case basis. Housing NZ will look to reimburse costs tenants incurred, and make discretionary grants to cover expenses such as moving costs and furniture replacement, as well as issuing a formal apology.
We're confident that Housing NZ as it exists today would not make the same mistakes. The wellbeing of tenants is paramount - and that's why we're working hard to put this right.
This week we also introduced a Bill to freeze MPs' salaries over the next year. The Remuneration Authority (Members of Parliament Remuneration) Amendment Bill will put a freeze on salaries and allowances while we develop a fairer formula for future pay increases. Then, over the next year, officials will look at the settings for determining future MP pay increases, with possible further changes in place before next year’s review. All future determinations will be made independently by the Remuneration Authority.
To round up the week, we celebrated the largest police graduation in over a decade! Ninety-eight new Police constables will now be deployed around the country, keeping us well on track for our target of 1,800 new police by 2020.
Female constables make up 39 per cent of the wing, ten per cent are Maori, seven per cent Pasifika and nine per cent Asian. The youngest in nineteen and the oldest is 50. Sixteen officers were born outside New Zealand and share at least nine foreign languages between them. There are former sporting reps from New Zealand, Samoan and Australian national teams, and a strong tradition of volunteering in areas like search and rescue, firefighting, and supporting victims, youth groups and the elderly.
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.