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Rural New Zealand central to Government thinking

Rural New Zealand central to Government thinking


Rural New Zealand will benefit from major new investment in services and infrastructure as part of Budget 2006, Rural Affairs Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

"Education, health, transport, police, biosecurity, work skills, and support for export businesses have all received significant extra funding. All of these elements are essential for strong, sustainable rural communities," Mr O'Connor said.

"The Budget underpins the Labour-led Government's determination to transform New Zealand's economy and society. It sends a strong message to rural New Zealanders that they have a vital part to play in New Zealand's future."

Additional funding over the next four years includes:

· $361 million for additonal teachers and new school resources - bringing total annual investment in schools to $4 billion. · $3 billion increase to the health budget, including major new funding in the aged-care sector, oral health and child health - bringing annual health spending to $10.6 billion. · $500 million for 1250 new police, 1000 of them uniformed. · $166.4 million in new operational funding in the tertiary education sector, an increase to $2.9 billion spent annually. · $1.3 billion to guarantee the state highway building programme. · $33.2 million for major biosecurity response preparedness and pest management and surveillance. · $64.2 million extra to help export businesses access overseas markets.

The Government is also developing a strategy for broadband in rural New Zealand, which will involve a review of public sector spending on telecommunications infrastructure.

Farmers and rural New Zealanders have a strong identity and are very proud of their communities, Mr O'Connor said.

"Budget 2006 recognises this and the importance the rural sector plays in New Zealand's ongoing success. It builds on the investment in services and infrastructure of previous Labour Government budgets to lay the foundation for a bright future for rural New Zealanders."

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