I would like to begin by acknowledging how much I appreciate the opportunity to be a Member of Parliament based in Hamilton.
I will work hard to serve the residents of this growing, vibrant city.
I had a quiet Christmas, spending time with family and finishing my 20,000-word thesis, entitled: Teacher Perceptions of Working in an Innovative Learning Environment.
It has given me a good insight into the new style of teaching that many schools are adopting.
Four key local projects I have been working on are:
1. Affordable Housing: I have been liaising with Hamilton City Council, Tainui, and developers around the potential for a number of KiwiBuild houses in Hamilton (affordable housing for first-home buyers).
2. Passenger rail between Hamilton and Auckland with free WiFi: This Government sees rail as a priority for unlocking both Hamilton's potential, and development of the Hamilton-to-Auckland corridor.
3. Roading: all local motorway projects are continuing as they were before the election.
The current local priorities are completing the Waikato Expressway, and investigating Southern Links (Hamilton ring-road) and Cambridge to Pairere (turnoff to Tauranga).
We are also committed to improving safety around various blackspots.
4. Community Policing: The Minister for Police, Stuart Nash, will be consulting with police officers around the country over the next few months on this.
I strongly believe in the return of community policing — we have five empty police stations in our city that should be operational.
I am proud of what this Labour-led Government have achieved in our first 100 days in office:
1. Ban overseas speculators from buying existing New Zealand houses.
2. Set up a ministerial inquiry into mental health.
3. Resume contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.
4. Make the first year of tertiary education or training, fees free.
5. Increase student allowances and living costs by $50 per week.
6. Pass the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, setting minimum standards for all rentals.
7. Issue an instruction to Housing New Zealand to stop selling off state houses.
8. Begin work on establishing an Affordable Housing Authority, and the KiwiBuild programme.
9. Legislate to pass the Families Package, including the Winter Fuel Payment, Best Start, and increases to Paid Parental Leave, to take effect from July 1, 2018.
10. Remove National Standards, ensuring the curriculum allows for diversity and creativity.
11. Establish a Tax Working Group.
12. Introduce legislation to set a child poverty reduction target, and change the Public Finance Act so the Budget reports progress on child poverty reduction.
13. Increase the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour, from April 1, 2018, and introduce legislation to improve fairness in the workplace.
14. Establish the Pike River Recovery Agency.
15. Set up an inquiry into the abuse of children in state care.
16. Set a zero carbon emissions goal and begin establishing an independent Climate Commission.
17. Rename the Education Council to the Teacher's Council and reinstate teachers on the Council.
I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018.