Last weekend the National Party caucus got together for our annual two-day planning and strategy meeting in Tauranga.

This year's focus was on developing plans and policies to help New Zealand continue to get ahead; and also building on the significant progress we made while in Government.

We made real inroads into growing incomes and providing jobs and opportunities;
tackling child poverty; and ensuring New Zealanders are healthier and better educated. We also left our environment better protected and our communities safer and more enjoyable places to be.

Read more: Ian McKelvie: Keeping busy in Opposition

Advertisement

But there is more to do, and that was the focus of our weekend catch-up.
It was a productive and enjoyable couple of days and it was great that Sue and other spouses and partners were able to be a part of it for some of the time.

I am looking forward to my roles as Opposition spokesman for both Veterans' Affairs and for Seniors this term. They are both important and significant portfolios.

Seniors, for example, encompasses a diverse range of issues including retirement income, employment, housing, transport, community services and the rights and interests of our older and retired New Zealanders.

Veterans' Affairs encompasses honouring the service of all veterans, generating a sustainable workforce and looking after that workforce and liaising with other government agencies where necessary to improve the lives of veterans.

Of course, many of those for whom Veterans' Affairs plays a part in their life are also senior members of society.

As a group, both the number of seniors and the percentage of our total population they represent, is growing – and it's growing fast.

In March 1997, 434,800 New Zealanders were aged 65 or over, representing 11.5 per cent of the population. By 2007 that number had increased to 522,100 and 12.4 per cent of the population. By last year, 717,500 kiwis were over 65 years, which is 15 per cent of the population

I am delighted to be working in both the Veterans' Affairs and the Seniors' space, and looking forward to the year ahead. You'll see plenty of new ideas from a large and invigorated National caucus as we hold the Government to account and work hard to earn the right to govern again in 2020.