I’m proud that over the past two years since the formation of coalition-government, we’ve made real progress on the challenges facing our Waikato region. I’m humbled by the trust you’ve placed and thankful for the chance to serve and champion our region as a local Member of Parliament.
We’re taking steps to ensure we are the best place in the world to be a child. In Waikato, we’re upgrading a number of schools and we are building more than 70 new classrooms across another 30 schools. This means hundreds more children will be learning in warm, comfortable and modern classrooms. We have also signed off on Hamilton Christian School becoming state-integrated.
We’re investing in Smart Waikato – a programme that improves student achievement, helps students get into meaningful work, and ensures a consistent supply of skilled labour for our regional economy, with a strong focus on the trades.
In October our Prime Minister visited the Waikato to announce a $12 million grant to enable a $74 million world class theatre to be built in Hamilton. Other contributions to this project have come from Councils, Trust Waikato, Lotteries, and philanthropic donors. This will create uplift and opportunity for the arts sector across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. Construction will begin early next year.
We’re investing in mental health and addiction services, including $100 million to rebuild the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton. We’re delivering better cancer care through increased access to new cancer drugs and treatment equipment.
Futureproof have combined with the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor team, in order to collaboratively plan the future growth in the Waikato region. The Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan maps development between Cambridge/Te Awamutu in the south and Pukekohe in the north. This corridor is the busiest in New Zealand and will be a key economic growth area over the coming years.
A passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland is due to begin in July next year. Alongside this, the Ministry of Transport is undertaking a business case to explore rapid rail between Hamilton and Auckland (around a one-hour journey).
Good progress continues on the completion of the Waikato Expressway, with the Huntly section due to open in February 2020. It’s important we have a balanced transport network, combining road and rail in the most efficient and accessible manner.
Work has begun on the completion of the Hamilton Ring Road and a bridge across the Waikato River near Hamilton Gardens. This will unlock the 8,500-house Peacocke development through $180 million from the Government’s 10-year interest-free loan and $110 million in NZTA subsidies.
We recently passed the Zero-Carbon Bill, setting targets to reduce our impact on global warming.
We’re working hard to ensure everyone has a warm, dry home. We’ve banned overseas speculators and we’ve made changes to the HomeStart grant to help more Kiwis into their first homes. We’ve stopped the previous government’s sell-off of state houses, and we’ve already built more than 2,000 new state homes across the country. We have also boosted funding for Housing First programme to reduce homelessness.
Our economy is in good shape, and there’s a lot to be positive about. We’ve delivered a strong surplus, growth well ahead of our major trading partners, low debt and record low unemployment. Here in the Waikato, we’ve created over a thousand new jobs since coming into office.
While there’s still plenty more to do, I’m incredibly proud of the progress we’ve already made for New Zealanders.
Jamie Strange, Labour List MP based in Hamilton
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