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Alliance Promise 1200 West Coast Jobs

The Alliance Party is promising, within three years, as many as twelve hundred more sustainable, new jobs for the embattled West Coast of the South Island. Scoop's West Coast correspondent, John Howard, reports.

Alliance leader, Jim Anderton, is today visiting the Coast and will outline an economic development plan to local authorities.

The West Coast proposal, part of a $200 million New Zealand-wide economic development plan between government and the private sector, will see ports in Greymouth and Westport developed through low interest loans, investment in SOE's, Timberlands West Coast and Solid Energy, the planting of 2000 hectares of exotic timber, a possum eradication plan, a sports academy in Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika, and assistance to establish needed sewage schemes.

It will also retain public hospitals in Greymouth, Reefton and Westport providing 24-hour care in the full range of services.

The Alliance says it will halt logging of the 130,000 hectares of West Coast rain-forests within the Timberlands estate, and establish a trust owned by the people of the region, but run by local authorities.

Labour has also offered an economic development trust but West Coaster's are wary of local authorities running it, given that there are just 35,000 people on the West Coast, but four council's with more than 30 elected councillor's and their seperate bureaucracies.

A new group calling itself Sustainable Communities Focus Group has recently been formed on the Coast to bring-about much of what the political parties are promising.

Mr Anderton says the trend in successful overseas economies is to recognise that at-risk regions are potential bases for future specialised development.

ends

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