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Anderton Looks For Backers On The West Coast

Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Anderton said today he would be personally delighted if West Coast council's invested some of their $120 million in the Government's new peoples bank. Dr Cullen seemed to agree. John Howard reports.

Speaking at the signing of a Heads of Agreement document in Greymouth transferring $120 million to the West Coast as adjustment assistance in lieu of native forest timber harvest, Mr Anderton said " The Coast is in charge of its own destiny, that's always been the objective, to give it an economic base."

" I want to make it clear the the Ministry of Regional Development and Industry New Zealand money is also available to this region on the same basis as it is to any other region in the country. The coast is an integral part of the whole New Zealand economy and everything that is available to any other region is also available to the Coast."

Mr Anderton said he hoped some of the money would be used for the knowledge economy, technology, and tourism and although he had some ideas, both Dr Cullen and himself had not come to the Coast to tell them what to do but only after full consultation would any decisions be made.

When asked what analysis had been done to come to the $120 million figure, Dr Cullen said the money was to create jobs and must not be seen as compensation but as adjustment assistance in lieu of the loss of the beech timber scheme. The money was to make up for that loss.

Mr Anderton said, "The Government is allocating over $1 billion over three years but the $120 million is a one-off payment forever and taken in context, it is not as big as first thought."

Mr Anderton was asked by Scoop if he would be happy if the West Coast Council's decided to invest some of the $120 million in the so-called peoples bank.


Mr Anderton said, "If, and when, the peoples bank was set-up, if a local authority made a decision in the interests of their people in its region as well as the country, to put some of their money into the bank, then I'm sure the managers of the bank and the owners of it, who I am looking at in Dr Cullen as one of the shareholding minister's, would be delighted.

"It would show reciprocal support," Mr Anderton said

Both Dr Cullen and Mr Anderton were scheduled to meet business leaders later in the day.

The signing of the Heads of Agreement today is the start of the public consultation process which will finally see the investment entity established to manage the funds for the creation of new jobs on the West Coast.


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