Parliament kicks off again next week and it's hard to believe the summer holidays are almost over. Many will be back at work and preparing for their children to return to school following what I hope was an enjoyable and relaxing festive season for you all.
This year looks set to be extremely busy both here in the electorate and in Parliament. In Rotorua especially there is much to look forward to as we focus on the issues that matter to you and your family.
Water quality issues and in particular efforts to clean up our lakes will continue to be a top priority.
To date the Government has contributed $72.1 million to the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Programme which is in full swing. Last year Environment Minister Amy Adams visited Rotorua to get a first-hand look at the work being done and was delighted with the progress made so far.
Increasing participation and achievement in education for Rotorua students will be another major focus. Already local schools and tertiary education providers are working hard to ensure our students are receiving the education they need in order to have successful futures.
Last December a new Rotorua Trades Academy was announced to open at Waiariki Institute of Technology this year.
The Ministry of Education has initially approved 65 places and it is hoped this will grow to more than 200 places in the near future. This is incredibly exciting for our city's school leavers. There is a lot of opportunity for employment in the trades industries and this academy will allow secondary school students in Rotorua to earn a tertiary trades qualification while remaining at school.
Later in the year the local government elections will be held, giving you a chance to vote for a mayor and 12 councillors to represent your community on the Rotorua District Council. This will be a good opportunity to have your say on who will make the important decisions for our city over the next four years.
Work is also underway on the second phase of the Better Local Government reforms. This will be of particular interest to the Rotorua District as it will help focus activities of local government on issues that are important to those who live here, including best value for money.
Finally, it will be good to see the new Children's Team up and running this year. Last October Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced that our city would pilot this new Government initiative to crack down on child abuse.
I will be working closely with the team and lending my support to make sure that everything that can be done is being done to better protect vulnerable children in our community.
These are only a few of the good things in store for Rotorua for 2013. Nationwide, the Government is pushing ahead with wide-ranging reforms to create a more productive and competitive economy.
In Budget 2013 we'll continue to implement our four main priorities for this term, including responsibly managing the Government's finances, building a more competitive and productive economy, delivering better public services, and rebuilding Christchurch.
I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to 2013 and continuing to build the brighter future our community and all New Zealanders deserve.
I hope you and your family have a happy and successful year.
My Rotorua office is open from 9am to 5pm, five days a week and I hold regular constituent clinics each Friday.
If you would like to meet and discuss any issues or concerns you might have please get in touch with my friendly staff on (07) 348 5871 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.