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Key Notes: 04 December 2009

Key Notes: 04 December 2009

Tackling Boy Racers

At midnight on Monday, two new street racing laws came into effect. These give police, the courts, and councils new tools to crack down on boy racers.

They allow repeated "cruising" of city streets to be banned by bylaws. They introduce demerit points for noise offences. And they give the police new powers to impound, seize, sell, or crush the cars of repeat street-racing offenders.

These new laws send a strong message that we won't tolerate dangerous, disruptive, and anti-social behaviour on our streets. They are part of National's focus on making our communities safer for families.

Improving Trans-Tasman Travel

Yesterday I tried out the new SmartGate at Auckland International Airport. It's a pretty neat piece of technology.

I swiped my e-passport at a kiosk. The kiosk used a camera and face recognition software to check my identity. Once it was happy that I was who my passport said I was, it opened the gate to let me through.

SmartGate will make travel easier and faster for people crossing the Tasman. Instead of having your passport checked by a Customs officer, SmartGate will confirm your identity and let you get out of the airport more quickly. This will allow Customs officers to focus their efforts on higher-risk passengers. SmartGates will be up and running at Wellington and Christchurch airports next year.

Strengthening Links in the Commonwealth

On Wednesday night I got back from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago.

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Highlights included an audience with the Queen, and toasting Her Majesty at the formal dinner. I told her how much New Zealanders are looking forward to welcoming Prince William here in the new year.

I also had the chance to sit down with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. We had a very good discussion about how we can work towards a free trade agreement between our two counties.

CHOGM had a major focus on climate change. Many of the Commonwealth's 54 countries have large agricultural sectors, and it was good to discuss our plans for a Global Alliance to research how to cut agricultural greenhouse emissions. National is focused on balancing our economic opportunities with our environmental responsibilities, and we see the Global Alliance as an important way of boosting food production while cutting emissions from farm animals.

Commonwealth countries will make a big contribution to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this month. Since CHOGM, I've announced that I'll be attending the Leaders Meeting at the end of the conference.

Boosting Broadband in Schools

Another 100 schools are set to get Information and Communications Technology (ICT) upgrades. The upgrades are the latest round of our $150 million boost for high-speed broadband in schools, which is part of the Government's $1.5 billion broadband investment. Over the next six years, up to 2000 schools will be upgraded. This will give teachers and students in almost every classroom in New Zealand the capability to access ultra-fast broadband.

Making Auckland Greater

Yesterday, the Government released decisions on the final piece of legislation to complete the changes to Auckland's governance, and establish the Auckland Council. Earlier legislation laid out the structure of the new council and the Local Boards, and defined the powers and roles of the mayor, councillors, and local board members. This bill sets out the nuts and bolts of how the Auckland Council will work. A select committee will hear public submissions on these changes in the New Year.

Giving Doctors and Nurses More Say in Running our Hospitals

We've previously announced that the Government is establishing a new National Health Board. The board will work to improve frontline health services and get better value from the $10 billion in public funding that our 21 district health boards spend on hospitals and primary care. This week we announced that seven of the 11 members of the board will be doctors and nurses. We believe that giving clinical professionals more say in how our health system operates will help improve frontline health services for patients, and provide better healthcare for all New Zealanders.

Blogging National MPs

Several National MPs are blogging on issues and events in their local communities at a new website, www.nationalmps.co.nz. I'll be blogging about some of my activities in Helensville. We welcome your comments.

Best wishes,

John Key
Prime Minister

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