Plain English for March 2012

02 March 2012 2 Comments

In this edition of Plain English I talk about what's been going on in our electorate over the past few months and our new programme of reforms to the welfare system.I welcome your comments so be sure to click through and tell me what's on your mind.

We are now well into 2012. I hope you had the opportunity to relax over the summer break and spend some time with your family and friends. I'm enjoying being back at work.

I had a great time over the Christmas New Year period with all my family together. We enjoyed being at home in Dipton and then a holiday in the north. Some highlights included attending the Te Anau rodeo and climbing Ben Lomond with the family and catching up with friends and extended family.

I have completed a round of meetings in the electorate including a dinner in Lawrence, a breakfast meeting in Balclutha, and meetings in Gore and Winton ending up in Te Anau. Queenstown's meeting will be held in early March.

The Southern Field days were held at Waimumu, just outside of Gore, recently. The event is a celebration of all that's positive about farming in the South. Around 31,500 people came through the gates to enjoy this rural extravaganza.

I was joined by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, Minister for Primary Industries Hon David Carter, and my southern colleague Eric Roy. We spent much of the day catching up with farmers and the exhibitors.

The 60-hectare site hosted more than 640 exhibitors, and most people admitted you had to be pretty committed to get around the whole site and enjoy all there was to see in one day. Innovation in the agricultural sector is important and the field days showed confidence built on good prices and hard earned resilience.

The Clutha Southland Branch of the National Party held a dinner in Gore and this was a well organised evening. The Prime Minister was the guest speaker at the event and the dinner was attended by former MPs Sir Robin Gray and Murray Rose. 

Mataura Primary School hosted a breakfast where the Prime Minister and I were guests. The menu was designed by 9-year-old Jordan Franks who had won the school competition to create a menu for the Prime Minister.

The pupils then had the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister questions. Partial asset sales and New Zealand's financial situation were among the questions asked.

Making welfare work

National believes that those who can work, should work, and we'll help them to do just that. Delivering better public services is one of the National-led Government's four key priorities for our second term, and welfare reform is a significant part of this.

The benefit system is simply not working and not delivering for New Zealand. One in eight New Zealanders of working-age, is on a benefit, while 220,000 children live in benefit-dependent homes. This is creating too many vulnerable people and trapping them in a life of limited choices, poverty, and poor health. Evidence clearly shows children are better off when their parents are in work and not on welfare.

This week we announced a two-stage programme to fundamentally alter the welfare system with a new work-focused benefit, greater work expectations, and an approach that focuses on the long-term cost of welfare dependency.

This month we will introduce legislation that will require some beneficiaries with children to be work available, as well as those on Widow's and Women Alone benefits. It will also target support for youth who are on a collision course with long-term welfare dependency.
Later this year we'll introduce more legislation to overhaul of benefit categories and clamp down on fraud.

More information:

Budget Policy Statement sets out clear plan

National is delivering strong and stable Government in difficult times.

The Budget Policy Statement issued on 16 February confirms National's clear economic plan for the next three years - including a return to budget surplus and starting to reduce net debt.

Our plan will guide Budget priorities over the next three years. The main priorities are responsibly managing the Government's finances, building a more productive and competitive economy, delivering better public services within tight financial constraints, and rebuilding Christchurch.

Budget 2012, which I will deliver on Thursday May 24, is about sticking to that plan to build a more competitive economy that supports more jobs, higher incomes, and ensures New Zealand pays its way in the world.

The Budget Policy Statement shows the Government is on track to post a surplus of $370 million in 2014/15, keep net debt below 30 per cent of gross domestic product, and reduce this to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020/21.

More information:

MMP review - giving New Zealanders a say

New Zealanders voted to keep MMP in the referendum and we are continuing to deliver on our promise by having the Electoral Commission undertake a review of how MMP works.

National campaigned in 2008 on giving New Zealanders a say on their electoral system.  The National-led Government kept this promise by holding a referendum on the electoral system alongside the 2011 general election - a referendum that Labour originally opposed.

We strongly urge New Zealanders to have their say on this review by making a submission.  Making a submission is easy - they can be made online, by email, or by post.  Submissions can also be presented in person.

 Details of the review and the aspects of MMP being reviewed can be found at: or by calling 0800 36 76 56 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 36 76 56 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Environmental champions sought

Nominations for the 2012 Green Ribbon Awards which recognise the achievements of New Zealanders who are dedicated to protecting and improving our environment are now open.

This year, the Awards include a new category, recognising the Green Economy.

The Green Ribbon Awards showcase the inspiring achievements of New Zealanders who are dedicated to protecting and improving our environment and these Awards are the Government's way of acknowledging their work and saying thank you, on behalf of all New Zealanders.

Winners will be announced on June 5 to coincide with World Environment Day.

For Category details and nominations forms for the Awards which close on 23 March 2012, visit


Bill English
MP for Clutha-Southland

Comment on this newsletter

Join me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Subscribe to this and other National newsletters

Gore Office
15 Main Street,
P O Box 266,
Gore 9740
ddi 03 203 3000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 03 203 3000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Balclutha Office
68 Clyde Street,
P O Box 103
Balclutha 9240
ddi 03 418 4288 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 03 418 4288 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Queenstown Office
1085 Frankton Road,
P O Box 2192,
Queenstown 9349
ddi 03 441 4093 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 03 441 4093 end_of_the_skype_highlighting


No Trackbacks

Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)

#1 - Margaret Dynes 2012-03-03 10:12 -

How about some females in your photo line-up. That was such a male line-up in this edition of Plain English people will think you only represent Clutha-Southland males. Women are not invisible in this electorate or country. Margaret

#2 - Robert Miles 2012-03-04 16:57 -

In my original BA at Vic, in the late 1970s I was relatively narrowly educated in exlusively History and Political Science and even with good grades, most govt depts were reducing graduate opportunites and wanted people with at least stage 2 Economics. Also Wellington in the late 1970s was a cold East German style down with about one half civilised bar the 1860, a couple of seedy nightclubs and a lot of sawdust pit and beer halls. I had seen Wellington for a couple of years then and visited a number of government departments. It looked an unattractive life- which if you didn't want a house, car or family in the immediate future would provide any half interesting or individualistic person nothing to spend your money on. I had several opportunties to join banks back in Sth and Mid Canterbury but I had no background in Accy, Econ at the time- and at school was a average performer in those subjects never really mastering those subjects till the 1990s. Most of all I didn't have the sporting contacts which I believed were essential to getting ahead and making social contacts in banking in that area. The initial pay in that field of banking was only pocket money to someone like me from a rich professional middle class family and banking is a stressful field where there's a high temptation to fraud. I also had offers to join the Railways traffic branch to see freight. Frankly I regarded any benefit as having higher social status and would have rather been dead other than take any job in the rail other than in the planning field. I was interested in defence and had several interviews for advisory officer roles-but in those jobs you were often working behind grills with armed guards at the door, ( which was the situation of occassions when I was interviewed for the first time with them). I didn't consider myself resilitant enough to join them in the mid 1980s and was certain defence policy could only be changed from journalism and politics not any internal role within the ministry. Therefore I was quite prepared to supplement my lifestyle and reading material with the benefit for a number of years. For my family it was useful clipping of the ticket to get much of the high tax by mother paid to NZ and Aussie state govts back. She felt the same about the superanuation surtax and in fact told me to get on the benefit in 1985 to get some money back.

Add Comment

This is a challenge-response spam filter. You must answer the following question: What Ministerial responsibility does Hon Bill English have? That is, he is Minister of ______?
Submitted comments will be subject to moderation before being displayed.