Wairarapa Regional Development – Follow the Money
Shane Jones – Winston Peters – Ron Mark
After the announcement of the new government’s formation we contacted New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in search of indication of how the Wairarapa might put in its bid for funding improvements to the Wellington Wairarapa train service. Mr Peters led Talking Business to the New Zealand First media team and we passed their comments to Chris Laidlaw, chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Then, in November Shane Jones indicated that cabinet would be involved in progressing bigger projects.
Chris Laidlaw briefed incoming ministers on the case for improved train services on the Wellington Wairarapa line. Laidlaw was aware of the positions of New Zealand First and Labour MP’s and continues to interact with the new government.
New Zealand First media spokesperson Chris Toban, said “As you can understand it is early days for the new coalition government although in the first 100 days we are putting in the building blocks for what we plan.
We are firmly committed to make regional economies such as that in Wairarapa, more productive.
In fact the regions are New Zealand First’s primary focus because we believe provincial New Zealand has missed out for too long.
We will work with regions such as the Wairarapa to identify and prioritise how best to utilise our investment approach.
We are establishing a $1 billion per annum regional development fund to fuel provincial growth. It’s a significant investment, and we are proud to have secured that. It will include significant investment in regional rail and other large capital projects.
New Zealand First has also secured the commitment to regionalise some Government services, such as the New Zealand forestry service. We are committed to a new planting programme—a hundred million trees a year, 1 billion over a decade.
It will help regenerate the regions and create vital jobs and new opportunities for any who want to work. Our initiative links directly to the Government’s actions on climate change.
The people of Wairarapa can be assured the government will also support producers and exporters and provide decent jobs for New Zealanders. There will be increased skills training and more research and development to add value to dairy and other products.”
Summitry Still Needed
Wairarapa resident Kieran McAnulty, newly elected Labour list MP, had initiated the Waitangi week 2017 economic summit for the Wairarapa. That initiative could be updated and extended with the support of New Zealand First MP’s such as Winston Peters, Shane Jones and Ron Mark and other local leaders. Local leaders clearly have work to do if they want to realise the opportunity posed by the Labour lead government’s regional development funding round.