The Prime Minister has recently returned from Europe and it is clear that the European economy is in poor shape. By comparison we are doing well and because of the conservative nature of this year’s budget we are likely to see gradual improvement in our economic indicators over the next three years. Let us hope that agriculture will continue to lead us through these difficult economic times.
The National-led Government is committed to raising student achievement. We want all our kids to have the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. But we don’t want to create unnecessary angst for parents, which is why we decided not to proceed with the changes to the teacher: student funding ratios announced as part of Budget 2012. We have heard the concerns of parents and teachers and have reversed this part of our education plan.
We remain firmly focused on raising student achievement and ensuring that all our kids have the opportunity to succeed. We continue to believe that investing in quality teaching and professional leadership is the best way to do this. We’re still injecting an extra $512 million to help raise achievement in education over the next four years.
The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill was read for a first time in Parliament this week and has now been moved onto the select committee for consideration. The most significant changes are to:
• Refocus the purpose of local government through a new purpose statement. In 2002 council roles were expanded into promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities. We believe that council’s core roles should be focused on local infrastructure, regulatory functions and public services.
• Introduce financial prudence requirements for local authorities.
• Strengthen local authority governance provisions:
o Central government will be able to provide assistance to a struggling council before the situation becomes critical.
o Empowering elected members to set employment and remuneration policy and requiring councils to report salary information in their annual reports.
o Empowering Mayors to, for example, lead the development of plans and appoint a deputy Mayor and committee chairpersons.
• Streamline local authority reorganisation procedures.
One last thing: Great news for the Turbo supporters with Aaron Smith making the All Blacks last weekend.