Happy New Year, Vangarey.
“New Year, New Beginning” has taken on a whole new meaning this year. It was an honor to work with Jacinda Ardern’s team. In the coming years, I think we will undoubtedly rank her as one of our most outstanding leaders.
But while I’m sad to see her go, like everyone I’ve talked to – from Whangarey to Wellington – I’m proud of her and so glad she’s now spending time with her family.
Since we are a team in this government, deciding who would lead us from here was a no-brainer (there was even time left for a team pizza). New Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni are a formidable duo, both with years of parliamentary experience, both tested in the fires of Covid and backed by Grant Robertson’s world-leading economic backlash. I personally know that they are also extremely passionate about their responsibility to New Zealanders.
The new Prime Minister has already stated that his focus is on the problems of ordinary life and obviously the biggest problem for all of us is the global inflation pandemic that followed the Covid pandemic. While we have kept New Zealand’s inflation and debt well below that of most comparable places, we all know that people are suffering. To relieve this pain as much as possible is our first duty. I predict this couple will be a down-to-earth, down-to-earth leader, though watch out for question time because the new prime minister is a real red-haired and ardent debater, and Carmel Sepuloni does not tolerate fools.
We’ll be listening to what people think and feel, so get in touch with me or any of us if you have anything to say. I’ll be at all my regular stalls in public markets, as well as neighborhood clinics and visits. Watch out for the red tent and red t-shirts at events, or catch me at the Bank Street office (or the supermarket).
There is a lot of conversation to come, including how we conduct the conversation, as shown by the exposure of the hatred directed at Prime Minister Ardern. These are serious questions, and this year I will talk about them.
My own New Year’s resolutions are to continue to advocate for economic expansion in Whangarei, and to ensure that we get the most out of job creation and workforce development through last year’s huge gains, our massive investment in new hospitals of nearly a billion dollars, which is equivalent to the previous government’s total spending on hospitals built across the country over a period of nine years.
You may also have read recently that the government is currently seriously looking into the Marsden Pt. This would have a huge economic effect, at least equal to an oil refinery and increase our chances of a naval base.
Housing is another important area and I am looking forward to launching several social housing projects that will bring young families and the elderly into warm and dry homes. I will also continue my many years of work on legal reform, and personally I will do my best to shed a few Christmas pounds. And from the exercise regimen to lobbying ministers, I realized that after this week I’m excited about it all.
Without a doubt, 2023 will be an important year for all of us, but whatever it brings, I am fully prepared. Now if only I could find those sneakers…