There’s a stark choice for New Zealanders on September 23 – whether we want our economy to grow for all of us, or see the benefits of hard work disappear with a dramatic tax-and-spend change in direction.
We are committed to reducing debt and boosting family incomes from 1 April next year with our Budget 2017 Family Incomes Package I was proud to vote for as your local MP, which benefits around 1.3 million families by an average of $26 per week. The $14,000 tax threshold becomes $22,000 and the $48,000 threshold increases to $52,000 – that’s a $10.77 or a $20.35 per week tax cut. As the Minister for Seniors it’s great to see there’ll be increased payments from the package for more than 99% of New Zealand’s 750,000 seniors, including the 12,000 living here on the North Shore.
I believe in investing in public services and infrastructure because strong transport connections support our growing regions and economic prosperity for all of us. That’s why I back spending $10.5b on ten new Roads of National Significance, including two in our region – Wellsford to Whangarei and the East West Link. Already we’re seeing the benefits of the Waterview tunnel, delivering faster and more reliable trip times for Devonport residents heading to the airport. My journey from Stanley Point takes at least ten minutes less time now using the tunnel.
Mental health is one of our most challenging social issues and has affected many families here on the Shore. The $100 million mental health fund will be very welcome and introduces a package of 17 new initiatives - including $5m to support and follow up people who’ve attempted suicide and the establishment of a multi-agency response service for people who ring 111 and need a mental health response. Those services will add to the sterling work being done at North Shore hospital’s $25 million He Puna Wai Ora mental health facility which I’d strongly advocated for. That unit, along with a new outpatients clinic and other facilities, has transformed Waitemata from one of the worst to one of the best performing DHBs.
The Predator Free announcement I made last month as Minister of Conservation to make North Head free of rats and install the first part of a trap network on the maunga was a great success. Since we laid the first traps we’ve nabbed ten rats and a lot of mice, and keen local residents are regularly checking the traps with DOC staff. With the DOC Community Fund more than doubling to $10 million a year, and the $300,000 available as an initial enabling fund, our local DOC Predator Free ranger Kat Lane is looking to support locally-based organisations which want to join the predator free movement.
The Prime Minister has just announced an additional $69m to specifically assist community and volunteer groups attain their goals and extra funding for DOCs Predator Free Rangers and landscape predator control, which means we will reach of goal of an additional one million hectares under sustained pest control by 2025 earlier than planned.
Grant and I are very much looking forward to October 27, when once again 10 fine homes in Devonport welcome visitors to raise money for local charities, including dementia, which is a worthy cause close to my heart. I’ve been Patron of this event since 2013 and this biennial event never disappoints.
I’m attending a number of candidates’ debates over the coming weeks and you can check my Facebook page www. facebook.com/maggiebarrynz for upcoming events and national’s latest election announcements.