With the Christmas break behind us and that list of New Year’s resolutions posted to the fridge, it’s around this time that we start looking to the year ahead.
Whenever I visit a work place, visit a local charity, or attend a function on the Hibiscus Coast or Rodney, one of the issues you raise with me most often is housing. Whether it’s housing availability, affordability or quality, there is no denying that the housing crisis we inherited persists. And it’s having a big impact on many families.
I’ve been thinking about how New Zealanders might reflect on this government’s first term come the next election; how New Zealand is a different place today than it was a little over two years ago. And for me, this government’s strong record on state housing is one thing that sets it apart.
Before we came into office, the previous government sold off 7000 state houses. Despite selling some of those to community providers, they left office with the public housing stock 1500 homes smaller than when they started.
When this government took over, we immediately stopped the sell-off of state houses – something we’ve now cemented in law.
Over the past two years, we’ve ramped up the building of state houses across the country, adding 3600 homes to our stock. We have another 2400 homes under construction, and 13,000 more in the pipeline. Plus we’re now building state homes in the provinces for the first time in decades.
We know that there is still much to do – and we’re hard at work getting on with it.
We also recently announced the plan to lift capital investment to the highest level in more than 20 years. Part of this is new, much-needed investment, that will give almost every state school in New Zealand a funding boost to upgrade their facilities, whether that’s the school hall, classrooms or playground.
Schools in Rodney are getting cash injections of between $50,000 to $400,000 for urgent school property improvements and I know, from my visits to local schools, that there are many projects and upgrades that this money will get started.
In looking once more to the year ahead, I want you to know that I will continue to speak up for the interests of people here in Rodney. Our little corner of the world is pretty dear to me, and it’s local people who keep me working hard every day, fighting for the things that matter to our community.
Happy New Year!