Jacqui Dean Column
I'm fully supportive of Aoraki Polytechnic's move to open a learning hub in Waimate with a view to deliver access to the NZ Diploma in Agribusiness Management. Aoraki has a good track record of reaching out to smaller population centres.
Don't forget from next Thursday, April 1, a number of changes to benefit Kiwi families will kick in including an increase in paid parental leave by two weeks – and then by another two weeks from April next year. Parental tax credits jump from $150 to $220 a week April 1, and the entitlement will increase from eight weeks to ten.
We're also boosting support for first home buyers. Kiwi Saver Home Start will help 90,000 Kiwis put together a deposit on their first home. Support for buying a new home is doubling and house price limits are increasing.
First home buyers will soon be able to withdraw all their Kiwi Saver savings except the $1,000 kick-start, including their tax credit. More people can access Welcome Home Loans and we're aligning price caps with the new Kiwi Saver Home Start Grant.
ACC levies, paid by employers and self-employed people, will fall to 90 cents per $100 of liable earnings, down from 95 cents. From July 1 New Zealand families with a standard car will also be $135 a year better off, as ACC levies are reduced.
The adult minimum wage will rise to $14.75 an hour, along with the starting-out and training hourly wage which is set at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage.
Benefits and superannuation payments will increase on April 1. As well as benefit rates, this includes student allowances, student loan living costs, the foster care allowance and rates of supplementary assistance. We legislated for benefits to increase each year in line with inflation and we're committed to maintaining the married rate of superannuation at 66 per cent of the average wage.
Free doctors’ visits and prescriptions are being extended to children under 13 from July 1. This ensures cost is not a factor when parents consider taking their child to the doctor.
Finally, I want to invite you all to attend a meeting with Environment Canterbury who will be discussing the implications of their new water plan. The time, date and venue for this important meeting is as follows: 2pm, Tuesday, April 7 at the Waimate Community Centre, Queens St, Waimate
For inquiries concerning the meeting please contact my office: 03 434 7325