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Government changes tune on regional development

Government changes tune on regional development – Turia

Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Hauauru
16 October 2008

Maori Party MP for Te Tai Hauauru Tariana Turia says it is sad to hear Forestry Minister Jim Anderton say that the government is not willing to take steps to protect the jobs of 200 workers at the Putaruru mill which is threatened with closure.

“Mr Anderton used to be a champion of regional development, but now it seems he’s become another Rogernome, who thinks the global free market makes the best decisions for Aotearoa,” said Mrs Turia.

“Some years ago, he told a regional development conference the country was at a cross-roads – just as it is now. The Minister said then:

“We could, as some previous central and local governments did, stand back and not get involved, let businesses fail unnecessarily and jobs with them. …

I don’t believe there is a real choice. We need to continue working together in partnership to address roadblocks to further economic development.”

“Mr Anderton used to ask, ‘how can New Zealand perform well if the regions are performing poorly?’ I think that’s a good question,” said Mrs Turia.

“The Minister’s answer is that the Maori Party’s proposed Community Development Bank should step in to support Putaruru, because his government won’t.

“We certainly believe that, if Maori controlled their share of all the government grants and subsidies that go into business development, something constructive could be done, and there would be a long-term payoff in communities like Putaruru.

“A Community Development Bank might show a bit more initiative and enterprise than this government, and at least look into options and possibilities.

“Instead we get a fatalistic shrug of the shoulders to the loss of 200 jobs in Putaruru. Even the Greens are shying off the government buying into partnership with the mill, instead they point to the importance of offering the dole. But the workers want jobs, not the dole," said Mrs Turia.

“Only a year ago, Trevor Mallard said: “The key players in regional economies - central and local government organisations, business and industry organisations, local iwi, individual firms, researchers, tertiary and training providers do need to work together when it comes to regional economic development.”

“Well, the Timber Industry Federation, the Mayor, unions and local people all say something can be done for Putaruru, because the timber industry is bound to recover. The Minister himself says the forestry sector is healthy. But central government is the one who has not come to the party. This is very sad.

“Perhaps the government is too busy with its election campaign to take decisive action over the closure of the Putaruru mill,” said Mrs Turia.


************************

NOTE: Some sources of government funding for business development:

Enterprise Development Grant (NZTE)

• Capability Building Grant (susidy for specialist advice, advanced training, development or planning project)

• Market Development Grant (subsidy for trade fairs or market visits, agency in markets, market research and advertising etc)

Escalator Service (NZTE) to raise equity funding
Enterprise Culture and Skills Activities Grants (NZTE) – JVs between business and education
FoRST Research and Development investment grants – subsidies for R and D projects, expert advice, internships etc
FoRST funding for innovative Maori businesses
WINZ Enterprise Allowance for unemployed people starting up in business
Enterprising Partnerships Fund (MED)

MED has put $9 million into Northland roading this year to promote forestry (FNDC)


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