Co-operating For Our Communities
Launch of Cellsite Process for Christchurch City
Christchurch City Council Lounge
Thank you for inviting me here today.
As Minister for Industry and Regional Development I have seen an incredible amount of New Zealand in a short time. Nearly every week I visit another region.
The objective is to learn more about the issues each region faces with a view to improving our local economies and creating more jobs.
As I meet and work with people in each community it is clear that the key issue that has to be addressed is partnerships.
When people in an area are working together to follow a common direction, then the local economy can be developed successfully.
In some regions not only were sections of the community not working together, they weren't even talking to each other.
The major regional programme we have for assisting regions to develop their economy is Industry New Zealand's Regional Partnerships Programme.
The first condition for government participation and support is that all the key participants in that region have signed up to the regional partnership.
I have been impressed with the way Canterbury people work together.
Some months ago Canterbury organisations put in applications for Regional Partnerships Programme funding. After discussions with local groups the highly successful Canterbury Development Corporation was chosen as the lead agency for this province. The Canterbury Development Corporation is largely funded by the Christchurch City Council which is hosting us today.
The Regional Partnerships Programme is Industry New Zealand's flagship regional economic development programme. It is designed to help regions identify their particular strengths and opportunities, and to develop and implement plans to take advantage of those opportunities.
The programme is not about hand-outs for one off projects, it's about developing initiatives that contribute to long-term sustainable regional growth.
Through the programme funding assistance is available in three stages.
Stage one is for up to $100,000 to be made available to assist individual regions to develop strategic plans.
Stage two can provide up to $100,000 per year to develop the region's ability to implement those plans.
Stage three is for up to $2 million per region to be made available to contribute to major regional initiatives that come out of the strategies developed in the first two stages.
Up to today 14 regions from throughout the country have received commitments of nearly $1.3 million through the programme for strategic planning.
I am confident that in the next few days an announcement will be made that will allow Canterbury to further your regional development plans and move ahead with confidence.
I know that in this region the money will be well allocated and that there will be a significant return to local people from qualifying for the Regional Partnerships Programme.
New Zealanders are the only people in the world who will secure a quality future for this country. The only way we can provide security and opportunity for ourselves is to work together.
We need to co-operate at all levels of our economy.
I am pleased to be here today because this cell-phone site agreement is about co-operation.
Cell phones, and therefore cell towers and sites are now here to stay.
New Zealanders are known for our ability to adapt and change. Where a new tool is useful, New Zealanders will use it.
Nearly two million New Zealanders have a cell phone.
An estimated 180,000 Cantabrians have mobile phones.
The number of cell phones we have is increasing.
The problem of neighbourhoods, cell sites and towers has had a lot of media coverage.
However, if we are using these phones they need to have cell sites.
It is also clear that to have a satisfactory cell phone network we will need the co-operation of all of our communities.
This solution developed here in Christchurch seems to me to be innovative and has the potential to work for everyone; the community, the Council and the companies.
It starts with a partnership approach, one that the Christchurch City Council is well known for pioneering.
Let me congratulate all of you who have made this new mobile phone sites process happen: Christchurch City Council, Vodafone and Telecom.
As I understand it the principle is simple.
Telecom and Vodaphone tell the Christchurch City Council the areas where they are having difficulty securing appropriate sites away from schools and homes.
Unlike some other cities in New Zealand, the Christchurch City Council is a major landowner and can find land that is not too close to residential housing in general and schools in particular.
The company gets a site which is going to cause less public concern, while the Council has acted responsibly.
The people of Christchurch who are worried about cell towers should be able to sleep more peacefully and people and businesses in Christchurch can benefit from a stronger telecommunications infrastructure.
I would expect that other councils will be watching this agreement with interest.
My congratulations and best wishes to all of you who are involved.