It's been almost two years since the coalition-government came to office.
I'm humbled by the trust you've placed in our leader Jacinda Ardern and our team, and we work each day to repay that trust with action.
I'm thankful for the chance to serve and champion our region as a local Member of Parliament.
I'm proud that over the past two years, we've made real progress on the long-term challenges facing New Zealand. These challenges didn't develop overnight and getting things back on track takes time, but I believe we've made a good start.
Two years ago we set ourselves an ambitious goal: to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. Since then, we've started taking steps to get there — like building hundreds of classrooms across the country to ensure Kiwi kids get the best start in life.
In the Waikato, we're upgrading a number of schools and building more than 70 new classrooms across another 30 schools. This means hundreds more children will be learning in warm, comfortable and modern classrooms. We have also signed off on Hamilton Christian School becoming state-integrated.
We're also investing in Smart Waikato — a programme that improves student achievement, helps students get into meaningful work, and ensures a consistent supply of skilled labour for our regional economy.
We're taking mental health seriously with big investments in mental health and addiction services, including $100 million to rebuild the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton. We're delivering better cancer care through increased access to new cancer drugs and treatment equipment.
Our economy is in good shape, and there's a lot to be positive about. We've delivered a strong surplus, growth well ahead of our major trading partners, low debt and record low unemployment. Here in the Waikato, we've created over 1000 new jobs since coming into office.
Futureproof have combined with the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor team, in order to collaboratively plan the future growth in the Waikato region. The Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan maps development between Cambridge/Te Awamutu in the south and Pukekohe in the north.
This corridor is the busiest in New Zealand and will be a key economic growth area over the coming years.
A passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland is due to begin in July next year. Alongside this, the Ministry of Transport is undertaking a business case to explore rapid rail between Hamilton and Auckland (around a one-hour journey).
Good progress continues on the completion of the Waikato Expressway, with the Huntly section due to open in February 2020. It's important we have a balanced transport network, combining road and rail in the most efficient and accessible manner.
Work has begun on the completion of the Hamilton Ring Road and a bridge across the Waikato River near Hamilton Gardens. This will unlock the 8500-house Peacocke development through $180 million from the Government's 10-year interest-free loan and $110 million in NZTA subsidies.
Ending homelessness is a priority for this government. That's why we've boosted funding for the successful Housing First programme in areas of high need, including in Hamilton.
We're working hard to ensure everyone has a warm, dry home. We've banned overseas speculators and we've made changes to the HomeStart grant to help more Kiwis into their first homes. We've stopped the previous government's sell-off of state houses, and we've already built more than 2000 new state homes.
This government isn't shying away from the big issues, but we know it needs to be a collective effort.
We're working with business to build an economy that works for everyone, and together with our rural community, we're ensuring we have thriving, sustainable regions.
While there's still plenty more to do, I'm incredibly proud of the progress we've already made for New Zealanders.