David Cunliffe has announced Labour’s Regional Development policy today. Labour will work in partnership with regions and put $200 million into a Regional Growth Fund fund to resource regional projects that will create jobs and drive local initiative.
David Cunliffe said in his speech to the Local Government Conference today
I don’t think there’s anyone in this room who doesn’t know of at least one project that would help grow their regions wealth, but that can’t get across the line because of a lack of available investment. In my time as regional development spokesperson I’ve seen more than a few. They’re ideas like the Opotiki harbour development which would create nearly 300 jobs – in a town with twice the national rate of people on
the benefit. And the tragic events of recent weeks indicate the importance of creating jobs in communities like that. Or ideas like the Gisborne to Napier Rail line which could be crucial for the efficient processing of East Coast timber and providing a sustainable future – a back bone to the east coast. Or rebuilding Dunedin’s heavy engineering, or accelerating its knowledge industries in the wake of years of the current government’s neglect.
Labour’s initiative is timely. Shamubeel Eaqub of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has been warning of the danger of unbalanced development in New Zealand’s regions and the Royal Society released a report recently warning of the same danger. Eaqub admits he doesn’t have the answers; but Labour’s timely initiative will offer some hope to these regions, and in the best development tradition, of building on local initiative.
The full policy document is here.
Update: LGNZ welcomes Labour policy
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule stated welcomed this support for regional economic development, which is one of LGNZ’s key seven strategic policy priorities in the LGNZ Policy Statement and the LGNZ 2014 Manifesto that was released this morning.
“Activity that helps regions is important but it needs to be sustainable. New Zealand’s economic growth strategy needs to consider the nation as a whole and the needs of its regions. We need to find ways to make our regional centres attractive for investment and for skilled migrants to settle. For this to occur, there needs to be a shared national strategy developed with central government.”
“LGNZ is also advocating for the distribution of a share of royalties from mineral, oil and gas extraction to the communities where it takes place,” Mr Yule says.