National Party 80th Birthday and 2016 Conference a success
Well, the 80th birthday of the National Party is behind us and now it's all eyes on election year 2017. The 2016 conference marked the party's milestone in style, but Prime Minister John Key reminded us at every opportunity that a fourth election victory has to be won by the decisions we make and initiatives we take every day.
As part of that reality, he used the conference to announce the latest prong in National's strategy to bolster the building of new homes in the cities that are most under pressure: Auckland, Queenstown, Tauranga, Hamilton and Christchurch. The new $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund will enable supporting infrastructure to be built to support housing developments in those areas of greatest need.
Councils won't have to repay the loans until the rates income is being received.
This move is the latest part of this Government's comprehensive package tackling housing affordability and will further help to ease pressures of growth in the areas most affected. It, together with measures including reform of the Resource Management Act, producing a National Policy Statement of urban development, building construction and apprenticeship skills and helping first-home buyers to unlock a mortgage deposit through our HomeStart programme, shows National is working to improve the country's housing challenges.
Aside from the policy, of course, the conference gave ministers an opportunity to discuss their portfolios and delegates a chance to debate remits.
It was good to see former Prime Minister Jim Bolger among the familiar faces there and to see him in fine form. Asked what he thought had changed the most in National between its 50th anniversary and the 80th, he said it was the diversity represented in the party and its attitudes. He's right, of course. Our electorate membership now better represents the multi-ethnic makeup of New Zealand in the 21st century and we are very glad of that.
Our members know Mr Key nails it when he emphasises the difference between National's outward-looking, positive views and its opponents inward-focused, protectionist desire to return to the past.
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I look forward to hearing from you.