The year 2012 has been a good one for the Rotorua electorate.
There was yet another drop in crime here with a 3.4 per cent decrease announced for the 2011 year. This was on top of the 5 per cent decrease for the 2010 year.
In particular it was pleasing to see drops in burglaries and illicit-drug and weapons offences with robbery, extortion and related offences down 11.5 per cent, unlawful entry with intent/burglary down 10.7 per cent, illicit-drug offences down by 8.4 per cent and prohibited and regulated-weapons and explosives offences down 12 per cent.
These are good results which show the Government's increased focus on frontline policing and crime prevention is working.
I wish to offer my thanks and appreciation to our hard-working police who do everything possible to make our streets and homes safer.
More doctors and nurses are treating our sick. Our district health boards have upped their game in striving to meet the six health targets we set to improve services, including better access to elective surgery, shorter waits for cancer treatment, and increased immunisation. This year I was delighted when Lakes District Health Board was ranked number one in New Zealand in many of these areas. Lakes surpassed the target for improved access to elective surgery by 20 per cent.
This year not a single person has waited longer than six months for treatment _ last year 146 patients waiting longer than six months for either a specialist's appointment to assess whether or not they needed treatment, or for the operation itself.
Further, all Rotorua children under 6 are now receiving free doctor's visits 24-hours a day and immunisation rates for toddlers have improved, almost reaching the target of 95 per cent of all 2-year-olds to be fully immunised by 2017 at 94 per cent.
Doctor visits can be a financial burden, especially for families with younger children who often need to visit their GP more frequently.
I'm sure it will come as some relief for families who will no longer have to worry about cost when taking their young child to the doctor. It means children are more likely to receive treatment before their conditions become severe.
People always tell me that healthcare is one of the most important things to them and these achievements are great news for local families.
I thank the staff at Lakes DHB for their continued and strong focus on improving frontline health services for the people of our community who need them.
A highlight of the year was an announcement by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett that our city would pilot the first Children's Team, a new initiative by the Government to crack down on child abuse.
How to better protect our vulnerable children has been a major theme of 2012 and the Rotorua Children's team will mean earlier intervention and prevention for those who are most at risk of harm and mistreatment.
In summary 2012 has been a pretty good year when one considers that ongoing financial crisis that many countries face. New initiatives and schemes have been developed and put in place to improve the lives of those who live here.
Next year will be another busy year as we focus on the issues that matter to our community, and for all Kiwis _ a stronger economy and more jobs, better frontline health and education services and a safer New Zealand.
From my wife, Nadene, and I and our family Joshua, Samuel, Caelen and Ana- Kiera _ have a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. I look forward to seeing you all again in 2013.
My Rotorua office will re-open for normal hours on January 14. Should you wish to contact us during the holiday period please call (07) 348 5871 and leave a message. We will be checking our answerphone on a regular basis.