Paul Swain - MP for Rimutaka
December 2002

It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of the year again and Christmas is almost upon us.

The success of the Labour Party at the election was a major highlight this year. I feel very privileged to be able to represent you in Parliament for another three years.

Following the election I had a change in my ministerial responsibilities, picking up the Transport and Small Business portfolios, losing Commerce and retaining Communications and Information Technology as well as several associate portfolios.

One of the most exciting things I’ve been involved with this year has been the Broadband Project announced in the budget. This will see most New Zealanders have access to broadband, or high-speed, internet by 2003 and all by 2004.

In today’s world having access to first class communications is vital and it’s very exciting to help make this become a reality.

Since the election we’ve been busy continuing the work of building a more prosperous, confident, creative and fair nation. I thought it would be useful to look back on the year and outline some of the highlights.

Unemployment has been at record low levels this year and we are now facing the problem of skill shortages in some areas. This is good news but there are still significant numbers of young people who leave school with few qualifications and find it hard to get work.

The government set itself the goal of having all 15-19 year olds in work, education or training by 2007 and is working in partnership with the Mayoral Taskforce for Jobs to make it happen.

We’re already making progress towards this goal. This year we have: helped place more than 3,000 modern apprentices in training; expanded the Gateway programme giving students from 62 secondary schools the chance to work for national qualifications while on work experience, provided a major funding boost for industry training and worked to keep tertiary education affordable.

In health this government believes that a fence at the top of the cliff makes more sense than an ambulance at the bottom. This year we set aside $400 million, to be spent over the next three years, to provide better access to primary health care so that problems can be tackled early. People with low incomes and high health needs are the top priority followed by children and the elderly. Another $200 million is being spent over five years on a vaccine to beat meningococcal meningitis. The second phase of the vaccine trials is already underway with 300 children aged 8 to 12 years involved.

The Rimutaka electorate has had a great year, with Upper Hutt recording the highest economic growth rate in the Wellington region. Many new businesses are setting up in town, which bodes well for the future.

I’d like to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and all the best for the new year.

Hon. Paul Swain

If you would like to discuss these or any other matters further, please phone me at my Taita electorate office on 567-0156 or my Upper Hutt electorate office on 528-5715. I am also available at my Parliament Office on 470 6565. If you prefer, you can write to me C/- Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp required).

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