IAN McKELVIE (National—Rangitīkei): Getting to speak last, or near to last, in the general debate just re-emphasises the tragic nature of some in this House. I want to remind the last speaker, Damien O’Connor, that he, of course, tried leaving the House for a while and no one wanted him back, so they did not put any new bridges on the West Coast. That did not work for him. I also want to remind the co-leader of the Green Party that Kelvin Grove, of course, is very close to my electorate. I could throw a stone at it. There is in fact no school in Kelvin Grove and she was quoting the “Kelvin Grove School” numbers to the Prime Minister just this afternoon. There is no such school in New Zealand, unfortunately. I think that is a bit tragic too. I think that when we get up to speak in this House we need to be pretty clear of our facts.
Before I get on to the real topic of my speech, I want to touch on a topic that the previous speaker spoke about, and that is the Meat Industry Excellence report, which was presented last night. It was presented to quite a group of people from around New Zealand. It was, of course, instigated by John McCarthy, who comes a fair way out of the middle of my electorate, from Ōhākune. He was very pleased to bring that report to the country last night. It did point out some very good points. It made some very good points, as the previous speaker said, and I am sure that if those points made in the course of that report, and all the work that was done on that report, in fact, have the value that the previous speaker said, then they will be brought to fruition in due course, probably by the industry, or maybe by a Government.
I want to get back to talk about how improvements to the economy are making life significantly better for our families in New Zealand. I want to start firstly with interest rates. We are seeing interest rates—and I guess it is a great surprise to some—in a position now that is making a significant difference to young families throughout New Zealand. It is making a difference to business. It is certainly making a difference to the farming community in my electorate. We have also seen fuel prices drop significantly in the last few months, making a difference of probably around about $30 a week to the average family. I know in my case that if I fill up in Levin, I can get my petrol at 20c a litre cheaper than I can in Wellington. If I fill up in Palmerston North, I can get it cheaper than I can in Sanson, for example—and significantly cheaper as well. So being lucky enough to have to drive down here every week I fill up in Levin as I go past, going both ways. It makes a difference.
I want to also talk about ACC, which has taken $130 off the family car expenses. That is a significant saving again for New Zealand families.
Finally in this section I want to very briefly mention the New Zealand dollar, which, of course, has come off at about 10c against the US$1, making a significant difference to most of our exporters. Although there might be some threat to us around what is going on in the cross rate with Australia, we certainly are in a good position from that perspective. So, all in all, the economy is making a significant difference to what is going on in New Zealand and with New Zealand families, and in rural New Zealand.
Very briefly on the dairy prices, which have come off at 8 percent overnight in New Zealand, or the milk price has—I think that when you compare this and look at the recent 1080 scare, it just shows the irresponsible nature of the type of activity that had been engaged in there. I also want to quickly touch on a demonstration day held by Operational Solutions for Primary Industries out in the Hutt some 2 weeks ago, which a number of us were fortunate enough to attend. It looked at the benefits of 1080, which have made a massive difference to the preservation of our forests, our nature, and to the eradication of possums and, of course, TB, which has been virtually cleaned up in New Zealand by the 1080 programme. Without the use of this tool we would be in desperate straits from a TB perspective and certainly our native fauna and wildlife—our native birds particularly—would also be in deep distress. I think we all want to see a time when 1080 is replaced by something more efficient, but until that time happens, I do not think we have much choice but to continue with it.
I want to touch quickly on the Northland Fieldays, which I attended a couple of weeks ago. They were pretty successful. I might make the point also, for the benefit of the New Zealand First member who just spoke recently, that that party is so interested in the Northland electorate it did not even stand a candidate there for four elections. So that shows the interest it has got. I might also make a point about that member. He himself comes from Carterton—the Carterton District Council, of which he was the mayor—which is about the size of Kerikeri, or not much bigger, and, of course, the number of votes he got in the last election was smaller than the number of votes he got in Carterton.
Finally, I want to very briefly mention the Central Districts Fieldays, held at Manfeild this last week, which was extremely successful, and had a crowd of 40,000 through there. Again, there were families, farmers, and other people of New Zealand enjoying themselves. Thank you.