Nicola's News May 2024

Yesterday we delivered our first budget. As Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has promised since being elected, it is fiscally responsible and will deliver on our commitments.

The focus of Budget 2024 was tax relief for middle-income earners and parents. Ministers have identified savings across portfolios of $23 billion over four years to responsibly fund tax relief and provide an additional boost to priority frontline services. That means that from 31 July this year, average income households will receive tax relief of up to $102 a fortnight. On top of that, eligible families will receive a FamilyBoost childcare payment of up to $150 per fortnight.

We need to Rebuild the New Zealand Economy, Budget 2024 restores discipline to spending to get the books back in order. 

This budget also includes practical climate action, including funding specific climate resilience projects like stop banks and floodwalls through the Regional Infrastructure Fund. Budget 2024 provides the foundation for us to reduce our emissions and increase our resilience, while ensuring that our response is providing value to hardworking Kiwis.

Our government inherited a dire fiscal situation, with core Crown expenditure increasing nearly 70 percent between 2017 and 2023, and debt blowing out from $60 billion to $155 billion. This year’s budget aims to bring fiscal discipline to get back to surplus and lower government debt, while increasing funding to the front-line services Kiwis should expect. Budget 2024 is the clean-up job New Zealand needs after six years of economic mismanagement!

First RMA Amendment Bill

This month, we introduced legislation to reduce the bureaucracy affecting our productive sector. The bill proposes specific changes that can be implemented quickly to provide certainty to applicants, while new legislation is being developed to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

We will support development in key sectors like farming, mining, and other primary industries that are critical to rebuilding the New Zealand economy.

As Associate Minister of Agriculture, I am determined to continue to work with our primary sector to reduce bureaucracy and improve productivity wherever possible.

We have already achieved the following for farmers - and we only just starting!

  • We scrapped the Ute Tax
  • We ratified the EU-FTA and are negotiating another FTA with the UAE to boost our export industry. This is part of our ambitious commitment to double NZ exports by value in 10 years.
  • The Government is helping farmers eliminate the impacts of facial eczema through a $20 million partnership jointly funded with Beef + Lamb NZ and the primary sector.
  • We have begun work on replacing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 and have given an extra 3 years to notify on freshwater plans.
  • This Government has committed to changing the hierarchy of obligations for Te Mana o Te Wai.
  • We’re undertaking an independent review of the methane science and targets, particularly in understanding no additional warming from agriculture.

Teacher Supply

We are very aware of the shortages in the teaching workforce. As part of the budget, we will invest in initiatives to support 1500 new teachers and help give our kids a world-class education. This includes. $52.6m over four years to attract, train, and retain teachers. This will help to build a highly skilled and stable workforce to address projected shortages of up to 680 secondary teachers within the next three years.

Investing in our teachers will help us lift student achievement, put in place a knowledge curriculum, and ensure our children are being taught the basics like reading, writing and maths brilliantly. These initiatives provide much needed support and stability of funding for critical frontline positions across early learning, primary and secondary education.

The Government is determined to lift our education standards, these are some of the things we are doing already:

  • All primary and intermediate students have been taught maths, reading, and writing for at least an hour every day since Term 1. 
  • Our ‘phones away for the day’ policy came into effect in schools from the first day of Term 2
  • Beginning in Term 1 2025, all state schools will be teaching reading using the proven structured literacy approach.
  • We have set targets for attendance and achievement, aiming for 80 per cent of students to be present for more than 90 per cent of the term and 80 per cent of Year 8 students at or above the expected curriculum level for their age in reading, writing and maths.
  • The first Charter Schools will open from Term 1 2025, with up to 50 being funded.


$24m Gumboot Friday

We recognise that mental health issues are among the most pressing challenges for young people in New Zealand today. We are dedicated to enhancing the availability of mental health services, supporting the workforce, and emphasising prevention and early intervention.

That's why we have allocated $24 million over four years to the I Am Hope Foundation, which oversees the Gumboot Friday initiative. Gumboot Friday offers free mental health counselling services to young people between the ages of 5 and 25.

This funding will allow at least 15,000 young New Zealanders to receive free mental health counselling services each year.


Out and About

Pink Ribbon

We had a fantastic turnout of women and supporters from across the district this month for my second annual Pink Ribbon Breakfast. We were honoured to have Nicola Coom, CEO of the Cancer Foundation who came along as our guest speaker to speak about her own personal journey with cancer.

Every cent of the funds raised went to the Breast Cancer Foundation to help it continue supporting women who have had - or are recovering from - breast cancer.

As Minister for Women, I’m so happy to see funds committed from yesterday’s budget to extend free mammograms to women aged up to 74 years!


Defence Force Pre Budget Announcement

I was delighted to join Defence Minister Hon Judith Collins KC to hear her pre-budget announcement for the Defence Force. These funds will help improve pay, infrastructure and equipment upgrades to enhance our defence capabilities. This was welcome news for our local servicemen and women who, we all know, work incredibly hard for our nation.


Upcoming events

Post Budget Public Meeting

This Tuesday 4 June, Hon Nicola Willis will be in Selwyn for a Post Budget Public Meeting. We’re very lucky to be able to grab her amidst her nationwide tour so please do come and join us from 2:30pm-3:30pm at Te Ara Ātea - Rolleston Library, 56 Tennyson Street. All are welcome.


Here to help

As always, my team and I are here and available to help.

You can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected], phone 03 344 2800, or pop into the office in Rolleston Square between Monday and Friday, 10:00am - 4:00pm.

Kind regards,