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Opening Of Council Chambers Refurbishment - Peters

27 February 2004

OPENING OF COUNCIL CHAMBERS REFURBISHMENT

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Council Chambers, Tauranga
Friday February 27 2004 at 3.00pm

It is an honour to be here today to celebrate the opening of the refurbished council chambers.

This opening comes in a week that sees this “metropolis” celebrate its population growing to 100,000, as the fastest growing city in New Zealand.

Tauranga is a lively and vibrant city that no longer can be described as being home to retirees.

Young families are fast becoming the mainstay and the future of the city.

The population, both close enough and yet far enough away from Auckland is booming because Tauranga still offers a wonderful lifestyle and great opportunities for people with skill and enterprise.

With these opportunities, that were not there ten years ago, also comes problems and we know that the council has had and will continue to have a battle on their hands over a number of issues.

Although chances are they will happy to work longer hours for the city in their sumptuous new surroundings.

When a city grows at the rate of Tauranga it is inevitable that there will be unique problems with infrastructure not being able to cope. For Tauranga has suffered from the historic anomaly of planning laws which have been designed for slow incremental growth as opposed to explosive growth and expansions. Such city authorities must always feel that they are behind the eight ball for whilst they are planning based on current population figures those calculations are immediately obsolete. Growth brings huge problems.

This is evident in the traffic jams that occur everyday in Tauranga. The roading system in Tauranga is in desperate need and we know what that need is; the lack of a national transport strategy.

The sanity of a central government transport policy that provides important port areas like Tauranga with a narrow range of alternatives like running heavy vehicles through residential areas or forcing them to meet the additional costs of toll only access is unfair at best and duplicitous at worst.

The solution lies with the Government and should not be foisted on local city councils and certainly not onto the citizens of the Western Bay of Plenty.

Hopefully with a new Transport Minister we can expect some revision of the Government’s stance.

Tauranga hospital has also had its fair share of problems with the fast rate at which the city has grown and an older than average population.

Our hospital physically cannot cope.

The good news is the approval of the redevelopment of the hospital.

Many people have played an important part to campaign for the urgency of the upgrade with Government.

This is a much needed and extremely overdue redevelopment. The Government has to realise that Tauranga has to be looked at as a major city in its own right. This is not some static provincial town.

It is becoming such an important city within New Zealand and as such the Government must act to ensure that the infrastructure does not collapse under the pressure.

The council works extremely hard to ensure that the people of Tauranga do not suffer too much from the rapid growth.

That is not easy and council will not always be met with positive responses to some of their decisions.

However they do work with the best interests of the city and its people in mind.

I look forward to working with them over the next few years and having the opportunity to use our newly refurbished council chambers.

Congratulations to the council and to the people, the ratepayers, of Tauranga for such a great job.

ENDS

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