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Key Notes No.41

15 December 2008

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

Nearly five weeks have passed since the election, and it already seems so long ago.

On election day, New Zealanders voted for change. They voted for a government that's focussed on the issues that matter to them - like the economy, law and order, education and healthcare - and not on political sideshows and distractions.

Since then we have formed a new government with the support of Act, United Future, and the Maori Party. The new Cabinet has been sworn in, and I have spent time in Peru at the APEC summit together with other leaders addressing the global financial crisis and promoting New Zealand's trade agenda. We've moved into the Beehive, kicked off our 100-days action plan, re-opened Parliament, and delivered on our first set of election promises.

STAYING IN TOUCH

The previous government lost touch with the people it served. I am determined that the new government won't go down that track.

With this in mind, we want to improve communication between New Zealanders and their government, so that we can listen to your concerns, and give you a better idea of our thinking.

We'll be enhancing the tools we developed in opposition, because they were a great way to gauge the mood of the electorate and respond to the issues that are important to you.

This e-newsletter will continue, and I invite you to comment through my website. Over time, we'll be enhancing my Facebook pages and my website, both of which allow you to post comments and feedback. You can also follow our progress as a government at www.beehive.govt.nz and www.national.org.nz, as well as through our picture galleries on Flickr and our video channel on YouTube.

While I can't promise to read and reply to every comment that you make, your posts will be read by my staff and will contribute to our thinking.

The new government has a lot of hard work ahead of us. We know that we will only succeed with your help and support.

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

We are under no illusions. We are in the middle of a global financial crisis and we face the most difficult economic conditions for a generation.

A month before the election Treasury forecast a decade of deficits. Since then, the global crisis has deepened, and we have discovered a $2 billion hole in ACC. It is likely that the crown accounts will look a lot worse in this week's December Economic and Fiscal update.

But this is not a time to over-react. This is a time for the Government to show some strength, look beyond the short-term, and reach through this recession.

We are not going to slash and burn. We have a plan for the economic problems we face, and we will carefully and swiftly put that plan into place.

The best hope for the finances of the Government, the best hope for our young people, and the best hope for the future of our country is economic growth.

Our plan to get the economy growing again includes, among other steps, an ongoing programme of personal tax cuts, a step-up in infrastructure investment, a reduction in government bureaucracy in favour of frontline services, an across-the-board commitment to lifting productivity growth, and a renewed effort to raise education standards.

Last week we passed our tax legislation, which includes tax cuts on 1 April 2009, 2010, and 2011, as well as a new independent earner tax credit for low and middle income earners.

This will stimulate the economy in the short term by putting cash in people's pockets, and in the longer term by encouraging people to invest in their own skills to earn and keep more money.

Our tax cut programme is just the first of many steps the new government will take to lift economic growth, improve opportunities, and help build a brighter, more prosperous future for all New Zealanders.

HERCEPTIN PROMISE KEPT

Last week the new government honoured its promise to ensure a full 12-month course of the breast cancer drug Herceptin is available.

I am proud that we have kept this promise to the women of New Zealand. The commitment was part of National's first 100-days action plan, and it applies from the swearing in of the Government on 19 November.

Women who have paid for Herceptin treatment privately between that date and today can seek reimbursement from the Ministry of Health for the full cost of their treatment.

I am pleased that women with early Her-2 positive breast cancer now have the option of accessing the one-year course of the cancer drug. They will also have the nine-week treatment option available.

I hope that this will give women with breast cancer, and their families, cause for greater optimism at what must be a very difficult time.

You can comment on this newsletter here .

Best wishes

Hon John Key
Prime Minister


ENDS

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