It's the week of Matariki, the Māori New Year. It's a time for reflection, having fun, looking forward to the year ahead, and spending time with whanāu.
For us, like always, it's a time of getting things done.
We've been busy this week getting on with the tackling the big, long-term issues facing New Zealand - making our banks safer, making our public transport better, and making our justice system fairer and more accessible.
We made banking safer
Since entering Government, we’ve brought unemployment down to near-record lows, and our policies have helped to create 70,000 new jobs. We’ve managed the books responsibly, returned two back-to-back surpluses, and delivered strong economic growth with GDP at 2.8%. We’ve supported venture capital investment, boosted support for start-ups to develop and grow, and helped businesses to invest in research and development.
We’re doing well – but there’s always more to do. One of the areas which we could improve on is our banks.
New Zealand’s banking system is inherently more vulnerable because we don't have a formal deposit protection regime to support people if a bank was to fall over. Even though our banks are safe and sound now, we know that a couple of bad decisions by a select few can have a real impact on everyone.
That's why this week we announced we're introducing a deposit protection regime to safeguard New Zealanders and their finances. We’re also working to strengthen accountability for banks’ actions.
This change is in line with OECD's recommendation - the same recommendation repeatedly made to the previous Government (and repeatedly ignored). It will mean more public confidence in our banks, and, most importantly, a safer system for New Zealanders.
We made our justice system more accessible for everyone
Everyone is legally entitled to access fair and proper justice, but without Community Law Centres, many people on low incomes would struggle to afford it.
This week, Jacinda Ardern and Justice Minister Andrew Little visited the Whitireia Community Law Service in Porirua to announce that, for a second year in a row, our Government is increasing funding for these vital Community Law Centres.
Demand for Community Law Centres’ services is growing - the 24 centres provide outreach from 120 locations, complete up to 50,000 cases each year, and provide law-related education to around 25,000 people annually. Despite all this, the previous Government decided to freeze their core funding.
Our Wellbeing Budget secures funding for the Community Law Centres for the next four years - because we know their work is crucial to making sure everyone gets a fair deal in our justice system.
We invested in health research into NZ's biggest health concerns
We are committed to vastly improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. We've demonstrated that again and again - through our major investment in mental health, through fixing our decaying hospitals, and through making GP visits cheaper for over 600,000 families.
This week, we announced yet another way we're putting the health of New Zealanders first, through funding 58 health research programmes through the Health Research Council of New Zealand. These programmes include research into some of New Zealanders’ biggest health concerns like mental wellbeing, asthma and heart disease.
A number of the funded projects are led by Māori and Pacific researchers, driven by Kaupapa Māori and Pacific research methodologies which help to reduce inequities in health for Māori and Pacific peoples. That's because we know that the investment Investing in Māori and Pacific health creates resilient communities and better wellbeing for Māori and New Zealand as a whole.
We took on gambling and the harm it causes
Did you know 1 in 5 New Zealanders will be affected by their own or someone else’s gambling during their lifetime?
While many New Zealanders gamble occasionally without any harmful effects, for those who do experience harm from their or someone else’s gambling, these harms can be significant.
This week, we updated our national strategy to prevent and minimise gambling harm. It's one of the many things we're doing to lift the wellbeing of New Zealanders and support healthier and safer communities.
We're also focused on improving equities for Māori, Pacific and Asian communities, which are disproportionately impacted by gambling harm. These communities are a key focus of our new strategy.