By Craig Foss
THE date for this year's general election has been announced for September 20. The John Key-led National government is focused on issues that are important to Hawke's Bay families: the economy, job opportunities, education, crime, the environment, health.
Of course, there are many more issues concerning people, and no doubt some will pop up during the coming months, but these core issues have always been the key reference point for New Zealand elections.
I am proud of National's track record in all of these areas.
Our families are interested in the interest rate on their mortgage, their opportunities for employment, job growth and promotion, the education for their children and grandchildren, cracking down on crime and protecting the environment.
Our floating mortgage interest rates are now about half of what they were when we came into government in 2008. They've fallen from nearly 11 per cent to under 6 per cent.
A family with a $200,000 mortgage is about $200 per week better off under National. Inflation is low at 1.6 per cent, down from more than 5 per cent when Labour was in charge. Superannuation payments have increased by $220 a fortnight for a married couple since 2008. This 25 per cent increase more than compensates for the increase in prices during the same period.
We've achieved this by carefully managing the Government's finances and significantly improving public services New Zealanders rely on.
New Zealand now has one of the best growth stories in the OECD. Yet in 2008 we went into recession almost one year before the GFC hit.
Tragically for exporting regions like The Bay, the export sector had been declining since 2004. We have turned that around.
Families now have greater choice because after tax wages have increased 12 per cent since September 2008 (compare this with just 3 per cent in the nine years prior).
Welfare reforms mean that around 1500 people per week are now leaving the welfare system to enter paid employment.
The crime rate is at a 30-year low. Our streets are safer as we have more police working on the front line as the use of technology has enabled smarter policing, freeing them up from endless paperwork and processing. And we have toughened up on parole and sentences.
There are 40,000 more elective surgeries per year than there were in 2008. That's an extra 100 surgeries a day. Kiwis are no longer sent to Australia for cancer treatment as they were under Labour.
This is no time for a far left lurch. Just look at the mess we inherited in 2008.
The progress we have made has not come about by accident, and continuing that progress will not be achieved by chance. Let's not put this at risk.
These are the issues that matter.
#Craig Foss is the Minister of Commerce, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Minister of Broadcasting, Associate Minister for ACC and the MP for Tukituki. He will be seeking re-election as the National Party candidate for Tukituki.