As the festive season approaches, it is time to reflect on the year that's been and the opportunities that lie ahead. Hamilton is a growing city that provides a great place for New Zealanders to live and prosper.

Hamilton has a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community. It's always wonderful to meet with people at various events throughout the year, be it sporting, cultural, or social. I look forward to connecting with more people in the New Year, so please feel free to come and say hello if you see me around.

Thank you to all those who work tirelessly in our city, from teachers, doctors, nurses, police, tradespeople, public servants and all the business owners, volunteers and workers who make our city such a fantastic place to live.

While we can look forward to the end of the year, it's important to note that it's a difficult time of the year financially. The costs on businesses and the cost of living in New Zealand has increased dramatically under the Labour-New Zealand First Government. It has meant more people are looking for work and it is harder for those that are working to pay their bills. We need a government focused on the real things in people's lives and not a continued series of publicity stunts.

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Hamilton continues to develop and prosper and this growth can be directly related to the infrastructure investment of central government in our city under the previous National government which invested in critical infrastructure such as the Waikato Expressway, Hamilton Ring Road, the Cambridge Avantidrome and the opening of new educational facilities, such as Rototuna Junior and Senior High Schools.

The current Government is not focused on investing in infrastructure. It has cancelled major new developments like the Cambridge to Piarere extension of the Waikato Expressway and has not delivered infrastructure like the Southern Links project and the Waikato Medical School proposal.

The Northern Corridor from Hamilton to Auckland is one such failure of the current government. The previous National Government committed to the development of this Northern Corridor. The work of Steven Joyce set up the Northern Corridor discussions and we are seeing the fruits of this with growth in Pokeno and Ohinewai. The current Government has continued these discussions but they have become very conceptual and we haven't seen any tangible results.

There is opportunity for exponential growth to the north of Hamilton, and it would involve real progress around water, industrial, and residential development along the Corridor. There are some practical steps that could be taken to enhance the corridor.

First, the extension of the Auckland electric rail network to the North Waikato would be a good initial step in this process.

Secondly, the Northern Corridor could also potentially involve a new city between Hamilton and Auckland. This would be an exciting part of Hamilton's future as we are the service centre for the growing populations north of Hamilton. The current plans are to build a series of small towns on this route. This will cause issues in delivery of services, from work to schools to healthcare. A better option is for one larger centre that can cater for these issues, not a series of small towns.

A future National Government would prioritise spending in health, education and infrastructure. We have a plan for growing Hamilton that involves the infrastructure and projects needed to achieve economic expansion, continued wellbeing and, ultimately, our city's potential. These will be real projects to provide more growth and opportunities and not a series of publicity stunts.

Wherever you are this festive season, I wish you the very best for the coming year. Stay safe, take care on the roads, and enjoy quality time with your friends and family.

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