Key Notes: A great way to end the year
A great way to end the year
It's the time of year to wrap things up, and start thinking about Christmas. It's also a great time to reflect on the busy year we've had.
New Zealanders have shone on the world stage - particularly our young women. Lorde has topped music charts, Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize, and golfing sensation Lydia Ko turned professional.
We've ended 2013 on a high note at home too. The economy is growing faster and New Zealanders are looking forward to the New Year with well-earned optimism.
GDP growth in the year to September was 3.5 per cent. The New Zealand economy is one of the fastest growing in the developed world, including Australia.
Since National was elected in 2008, we've focused on building a solid platform for growth.
Back then, we faced an economy in recession, a decade of projected deficits, and mounting debt. Five years on, despite these challenges, the country is in good shape.
We set a target to get the Government's books back to surplus by 2014-15 and start paying off debt. We're on track for that.
Business confidence is at its highest level since February 1999, and manufacturing confidence has hit a 15-year high.
This is great news for families. It means that, over time, they will see higher incomes, more jobs, and better job security.
A growing economy is vital so we can pay for the public services and infrastructure that families need - better healthcare, new schools, better roads and broadband.
So we're making good progress and our plan is working. But there is still much more we have to do, so we can lock in real benefits for New Zealanders and their families.
I'm really looking forward to the challenges that 2014 will bring, but until then, I'm going to spend a few weeks relaxing with my family. I hope you get the chance to do that too.
Watch my end of year videoblog here.