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National Aims For Strong Rural Communities

9 July 2002

"National understands that rural communities have special and different needs to urban centres and these need to be recognised and addressed," says National Party leader Bill English.

Releasing National's Rural Affairs Policy today, Mr English says with one in seven New Zealanders living in rural areas it is important that necessary strategies and supports are in place to deal quickly and effectively with issues when they arise.

"Rural communities need a Government that understands and recognises these needs and one that puts the time and resources in place to advocate for the sector.

"National knows the primary industry will continue to remain the cornerstone of New Zealand's economy. However, with a rising dollar and falling commodity prices it is more important than ever that we focus on making it easier to do business in rural communities, while also supporting the sector at the social level.

Mr English says National's policy combines a number of different and comprehensive strategies, which are aimed at making life easier in rural areas.

"It includes things like providing strong advocacy for the rural sector, closing the digital divide by improving telecommunication bandwidth in rural areas, providing more funding for rural health services, ensuring the quality of rural education matches that available in urban areas, protecting and maintaining the country's all-important biosecurity systems, as well as reducing business and compliance costs.

"National believes that the rural community is an important and valued part of New Zealand. Our Rural Affairs policy recognises this and aims to tackle many of unique problems and challenges this often neglected part of our society faces," Mr English says.


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