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Cullen's challenge: support regional economies

20 May 2008
Cullen's challenge: support regional economies

With 320 job losses at Sealord's Nelson mussel factory and 138 meatworks jobs going from Dunedin, Thursday's budget needs to raise benefits and rebuild local economies, Green Party Regional Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"The Finance Minister needs to react quickly and use Thursday's budget to protect our local industries. He needs to lift benefits and rebuild our regional economies.

"Workers and their families and children are suffering as local economies start to contract, sucking even more money out of those economies as whole families are forced into poverty on inadequate benefits with reduced prospects of easily finding work.

"Recently, PPCS laid off 466 workers from Dannevirke, who join the staff recently from the Norsewear factory and at the Feltex carpet plant, which closed in 2006. Dunedin continues to suffer following the twin loss of Fisher and Paykel and the Tamahine factory.

"With the drastic economic attacks on local workers, the Finance Minister's response must be a two pronged one.

"It is obvious that benefit levels must rise to support those people who lose their jobs and can't immediately find new ones in the current slowdown. We cannot afford to plunge thousands more New Zealand workers and their families into poverty just as our economy turns downwards.

"At the same time, the Minister needs to invest in promoting more diverse economies, rather than each town putting all its hopes on one industry. Each of our towns and provinces needs a range of successful primary industry and manufacturing businesses providing diversity and strength to our local communities.

"As the economy constricts the first people to suffer are workers, beneficiaries and their families. We need local economies that are capable of supporting our diverse economic and social needs.

"On Thursday I'll be looking past any tax cut carrots and judging the Minister's budget against these two tests."


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