New primary up and running.
This week I was fortunate enough to visit the newest addition to Botany’s Primary School network. Elim Junior Campus is a state-integrated primary school in Golflands which opened at the beginning of the year.
The school has a roll of around 350 young students, all of whom seem full of excitement and enthusiasm – and rightly so. I was greatly impressed with the new facilities and the warm welcoming atmosphere the school has created.
Elim has embraced some new approaches to schooling which I do not recall from my days at Papatoetoe West Primary. Teachers no longer have desks, walls are now transparent and whiteboards are now computers.
Technology seems to be a central focus for the school and it was great to see the eagerness with which the kids launched into their work on the school’s netbooks. This is definitely a modern learning environment. I look forward to seeing more existing schools doing the same things with the help of the Government’s $1 billion investment into 21st Century schools.
I know there has been some concern in the community about the effects of the school on the local roading network. It was good to see the effort and consideration the school has made to ensure the impact on the community is as small as possible. I know Auckland Transport has also put in a lot of work to see that the community are no worse off than neighbours of other primary school in the area.
Credit must also go to the Golflands residents, many of whom have been most welcoming of the school and understanding of the implications and benefits of having a new school next door. I am confident that all parties will keep up their efforts and the school will become a great resource for kids, both in Botany and further afield.
Fine tuning MMP
Following the referendum at last year’s General Election the Electoral Commission is undertaking a review of how MMP works. They have recently released a consultation paper to get people thinking.
Just under 58 per cent of voters in the referendum supported MMP. Clearly then, it is the most popular voting system in New Zealand but there are also elements of other systems people like.
This consultation is a great opportunity for everyone, regardless of whether they supported MMP or not, to help fine tune our electoral system. If this is an area you are interested in then I encourage you to have your say - the power is in your hands, don’t miss the opportunity.
The MMP review includes topics such as:
• The thresholds a party must reach to gain representatives in Parliament (ie. five per cent or one electorate seat).
• Whether candidates should be allowed to stand in an electorate and on a party list.
• Whether voters should be able to rank candidates on a party list.
• How population growth should affect the electorate seat to list seat ratio.
As well as the chance to provide a full submission, there is a quick “5 Minute Submission” option on the Commission’s website for those short on time.
For more information about the review or to make a submission simply visit www.mmpreview.org.nz or freephone 0800 3676 56.
Budget 2012 Policy Statement.
Last week the Budget 2012 Policy Statement was released and showed the Government’s strong intent to stick to our economic plan. Returning to surplus and reducing net debt is a key element of our future. A report from the Treasury shows we are still on track to achieve this.
The economic outlook for New Zealand remains positive despite the events in Europe, which have potential to bring a significant negative affect to New Zealand. We are on track to achieve a surplus of $370 million in 2014/15 and to keep net debt below 30 per cent of GDP.
In our favour is the fact that our largest trading partners are some of the stronger-performing countries in the world. It is also expected that rebuilding Christchurch will provide a boost to the economy in the coming years.
Tight fiscal responsibility while achieving value for taxpayers’ money will be the key to building a stronger economy. Budget 2012 will be about achieving the goals we campaigned on and creating more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders.