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Key Notes: Our plan for the economy is working

Key Notes: Our plan for the economy is working

This week we welcomed some great news on the economy, and I visited Waitangi before departing for Australia to meet with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

In Sydney today I welcomed confirmation that long-term New Zealand residents in Australia would now have access to the Higher Education Loan Program for students.

At the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, Prime Minister Abbott and I spoke about New Zealand's close relationship with Australia and the importance of building a strong economy to create jobs and growth.

Household Labour Force Survey employment data released this week showed that our plan for the economy is working.

In the past year, 66,000 more people were employed - the strongest annual rise since 2006. Employment rose by 24,000 in the December quarter alone. Unemployment has dropped to 6.0 per cent, and is lower than in most OECD countries.

Our welfare reforms are also working. On average, 1500 people each week have been supported off welfare and into work since the reforms began. National's plan is to help more New Zealanders move from welfare into independence, and it's great to see this making a difference.

Wages are rising faster than inflation.

Unemployment for both Māori and Pasifika is down.

The rate for youth not in employment, education or training is the lowest since March 2009. There are 16,000 more 15-24 year olds in employment, education, or training than there were a year ago.

After several years of hard work, through the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes, New Zealand families are looking to the future with optimism.

While we are moving in the right direction, as a country we need to remain focused on encouraging investment, jobs, and growth.

To see more of what I've been up to in Australia, have a look at my Facebook and Twitter.

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