Talking business with Anthony Haas

Kieran McAnulty’s Labour offers regional funding

Kieran McAnulty

 

Labour candidate for the Wairarapa electorate Kieran McAnulty says “In some ways, a regular commuter service into the capital city is the envy of other districts. Wairarapa is well positioned to attract new residents and businesses due to our proximity and connection to Wellington. However, it is the success of local councils in promoting Wairarapa as a place to live and work that has lead to the train service no longer being fit for purpose. The three commuter services are oversubscribed, people using these services already exceed 2019 projections.

In the weekends, there are only two return services. This does not help Wairarapa’s potential as a tourism destination.

We need more improved capability for the commuter services and increased services off-peak, including weekends.

The easiest solution is for Central government to identify this as a priority and provide the funding required to complete maintenance of the track and upgrade services.

Andrew Little identified the Wairarapa rail service as an example of a project that could benefit from Labour’s Regional Development Fund.”

What would Labour offer for the Manawatu Gorge?

McAnulty says the news is a real blow. It affects Wairarapa, Tararua, Hawke’s Bay Palmerston North and Woodville, where residents and business owners facing uncertainty are screaming out for answers. They want to know what plans are available and these concerns have largely fallen on deaf ears.

When he visited Woodville after the announcement he faced shock and worry from business owners and workers. One business owner thought he was the MP, which he says, speaks volumes about current National mp, Mr Scott’s inactivity over the last 3 years.

While these alternative routes allow traffic to and from Manawatu, the closure of the gorge acts as a disincentive to make this trip. Attractions such as Tui Brewery and Pukaha Mount Bruce see a reduction in visitors when it is closed. This in turn affects businesses right down Wairarapa.

The candidate says he can see no reason why the Government doesn’t offer support to those business directly affected by the closure, as they do in Kaikoura.

A long-term solution for the Manawatu Gorge has been sought for years. Numerous examples of slips have affected the gorge in years gone by. The most notable of those was the 2011 slip which closed the gorge for 14 months. That slip cost $20m to fix, with a further $10m in upgrades or maintenance to alternative roads.

This type of expenditure is unsustainable. While the cost largely comes from NZTA’s emergency works funding, over time the cost of a viable solution would be easily met by the amount spent on fixing and preventing slips in the gorge.

2012 NZTA report highlighted alternatives to the gorge. The longer this is delayed the more expensive the solution while the Saddle Road and Pahiatua Track receive far more traffic than they were designed for. In the case of Saddle Road, the costs of upgrading and maintenance now falls on NZTA. The Pahiatua Track however still falls to the Tararua District Council which places an unfair strain on what is a council with a very small rating base.

ahaas@decisionmaker.co.nz

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