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A Political Party That's on Northland's Side


Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
1 September 2014

Whangarei Regional Forum
Monday 1 September, 6pm

Forum North, Whangarei

A Political Party That's on Northland's Side

In relation to regional policy and regional development we know that for the past six years regional development has not been a priority.

Simply put, there has been no vision, no strategy and no plans for regional development.

The blunt fact is that New Zealand has always been more prosperous when the regions are thriving.

That is why for our country’s long term prosperity, New Zealand First is committed to a strong emphasis on regional development and growth.

For far too long Northland, politically, has suffered from a game of political spin.

More and more people in Northland are coming to realise that the National Party that they have supported for decades is simply no longer on their side.

New Zealand First’s economic policy is that all New Zealand should share in a well-balanced and thriving economy.

Our approach is that no region should be left behind.

What is not working for New Zealand is having a completely unbalanced economy in which more and more resources are being sucked into Auckland at the expense of the rest of the country.

Relative to the rest of New Zealand, Auckland now has a disproportionate role and influence – and of course consumes vast resources just to cope with basic infrastructure needs, stretched by near record immigration.

That is why a sound and sensible regional policy is essential for New Zealand’s balanced development and growth.

Thriving, strong regional economies create skilled jobs and encourage people to move to the provinces. That actually solves many problems facing the country.

That includes the housing crisis which is most acute in the major urban centres.

The major problem facing regional economies and Northland is a currency policy directly working against their interests.

The seriously inflated dollar has always damaged the provinces, and with a 40 per cent drop in dairy prices, Northland’s economy is under expected stress.

1. Currency Policy

New Zealand First is going to change the Reserve Bank Act so that it operates to support export commodities, which includes Tourism, and will bring new life back to the provinces.

2. Royalties for the Regions

Another fundamental element in New Zealand First’s approach to the regions is our Royalties for the Regions Policy.

New Zealand First believes that Crown royalties, through a Royalty for Regions policy, should play a role in contributing to the development of regional communities and economies.

In simple terms, 25 per cent of the royalties paid on extraction of minerals, oil and gas including products like limestone, lignite, gold or others will be placed in a fund, administered by this region’s councils, for use in regional development.

Our Royalties for the Regions policy rests on one fundamental principle – fairness.

We say that the region that generates wealth should enjoy a reasonable share of it.

With our policy, the involvement of local people in decision making and development of their areas through the proposed Royalties for Regions scheme has the potential to help concerned residents and mineral extractors reach agreement over environmental issues.

The economic and social benefits conferred to regional communities through the scheme will allow local communities to plan and spend more efficiently and effectively. This is not a substitute for existing funding streams - it is a new funding source.

Under our proposal, over $80 million would have been contributed towards regional development initiatives nationwide in the 2012/13 year.

The regional fund created through the policy would contribute to local projects and developments upon advice from local authorities, and local interest groups.

New Zealand First’s Royalties for the Regions policy makes perfect sense. It is a practical, common sense approach to regional growth and development.

3. Infrastructure
Put simply, we see investment in transport infrastructure as vital for Northland’s development and future prosperity.

Unfortunately when it comes to transport infrastructure the National Government has a blind spot.

It does not have a properly integrated and coordinated land transport plan.

The result is that on transport infrastructure its thinking is quite unbalanced and one dimensional.

Let’s be clear. New Zealand First is not an anti-road or anti-motorway party.

Transport planning is not about either road or rail, but rather which mode is best suited to meet particular transport needs.

A sensible transport policy has to recognise the role of all modes.
For example, Northland faces the issue of moving logs and timber products.

It is obvious that any high volumes of logs or other bulky goods are best moved by rail.

And so a shift from rail to road would mean more logging trucks that will inevitably damage the roads and increase costs to the taxpayer and the road user.

4. Northland’s Rail

Unfortunately for Northland and New Zealand the National Government is clearly anti-rail.

They have a clear agenda to undermine and dismantle much of New Zealand’s rail infrastructure.

You will have read of the closure of the Napier-Gisborne line, which occurred because they failed to maintain it properly, and now the Government claims the line is uneconomic.

There would not be a railway system anywhere in the world where every line is economic, but where together all the lines make an economic whole.

Northland should be warned. There is every reason to expect that this current government will close the Auckland-Northland railway line and claim that it too is uneconomic.

One would love to be proved wrong but that forecast closure is a veiled topic in Welllington.

New Zealand First is committed to upgrading the rail network in Northland.

Our position is that Northland needs good rail connections to the rest of New Zealand if it is to grow.

The potential of the Port of Northland for the region, as well as for the country as a whole, is being strangled by lack of an effective rail link.

We will use our Railways of National Importance Programme RONI (using $300m diverted from National’s $12 billion RONS motorway programme) to make a rail connection to Marsden Point as we see this investment as vital for the continued growth of this major port.

Associated with this we will invest in upgrading the main rail line to Auckland. This will mean enlarging or lowering the floor of tunnels to allow the passage of 40-foot containers, and the easing of many, many, bends.

Upgrading the Auckland to Whangarei line will involve substantial cost but it is not pie in the sky – it is manageable.

KiwiRail has estimated the upgrade of the North Auckland lines to be around $200 million.

This is sensible and makes common sense.

We say regions like Northland matter – they are heartland New Zealand and they deserve support, not neglect, from central government.

And support for Northland is what New Zealand First stands for.

ENDS


In relation to regional policy and regional development we know that for the past six years regional development has not been a priority.

Simply put, there has been no vision, no strategy and no plans for regional development.

The blunt fact is that New Zealand has always been more prosperous when the regions are thriving.

That is why for our country’s long term prosperity, New Zealand First is committed to a strong emphasis on regional development and growth.

For far too long Northland, politically, has suffered from a game of political spin.

More and more people in Northland are coming to realise that the National Party that they have supported for decades is simply no longer on their side.

New Zealand First’s economic policy is that all New Zealand should share in a well-balanced and thriving economy.

Our approach is that no region should be left behind.

What is not working for New Zealand is having a completely unbalanced economy in which more and more resources are being sucked into Auckland at the expense of the rest of the country.

Relative to the rest of New Zealand, Auckland now has a disproportionate role and influence – and of course consumes vast resources just to cope with basic infrastructure needs, stretched by near record immigration.

That is why a sound and sensible regional policy is essential for New Zealand’s balanced development and growth.

Thriving, strong regional economies create skilled jobs and encourage people to move to the provinces. That actually solves many problems facing the country.

That includes the housing crisis which is most acute in the major urban centres.

The major problem facing regional economies and Northland is a currency policy directly working against their interests.

The seriously inflated dollar has always damaged the provinces, and with a 40 per cent drop in dairy prices, Northland’s economy is under expected stress.

1. Currency Policy

New Zealand First is going to change the Reserve Bank Act so that it operates to support export commodities, which includes Tourism, and will bring new life back to the provinces.

2. Royalties for the Regions

Another fundamental element in New Zealand First’s approach to the regions is our Royalties for the Regions Policy.

New Zealand First believes that Crown royalties, through a Royalty for Regions policy, should play a role in contributing to the development of regional communities and economies.

In simple terms, 25 per cent of the royalties paid on extraction of minerals, oil and gas including products like limestone, lignite, gold or others will be placed in a fund, administered by this region’s councils, for use in regional development.

Our Royalties for the Regions policy rests on one fundamental principle – fairness.

We say that the region that generates wealth should enjoy a reasonable share of it.

With our policy, the involvement of local people in decision making and development of their areas through the proposed Royalties for Regions scheme has the potential to help concerned residents and mineral extractors reach agreement over environmental issues.

The economic and social benefits conferred to regional communities through the scheme will allow local communities to plan and spend more efficiently and effectively. This is not a substitute for existing funding streams - it is a new funding source.

Under our proposal, over $80 million would have been contributed towards regional development initiatives nationwide in the 2012/13 year.

The regional fund created through the policy would contribute to local projects and developments upon advice from local authorities, and local interest groups.

New Zealand First’s Royalties for the Regions policy makes perfect sense. It is a practical, common sense approach to regional growth and development.

3. Infrastructure


Put simply, we see investment in transport infrastructure as vital for Northland’s development and future prosperity.

Unfortunately when it comes to transport infrastructure the National Government has a blind spot.

It does not have a properly integrated and coordinated land transport plan.

The result is that on transport infrastructure its thinking is quite unbalanced and one dimensional.

Let’s be clear. New Zealand First is not an anti-road or anti-motorway party.

Transport planning is not about either road or rail, but rather which mode is best suited to meet particular transport needs.

A sensible transport policy has to recognise the role of all modes.


For example, Northland faces the issue of moving logs and timber products.

It is obvious that any high volumes of logs or other bulky goods are best moved by rail.

And so a shift from rail to road would mean more logging trucks that will inevitably damage the roads and increase costs to the taxpayer and the road user.

4. Northland’s Rail

Unfortunately for Northland and New Zealand the National Government is clearly anti-rail.

They have a clear agenda to undermine and dismantle much of New Zealand’s rail infrastructure.

You will have read of the closure of the Napier-Gisborne line, which occurred because they failed to maintain it properly, and now the Government claims the line is uneconomic.

There would not be a railway system anywhere in the world where every line is economic, but where together all the lines make an economic whole.

Northland should be warned. There is every reason to expect that this current government will close the Auckland-Northland railway line and claim that it too is uneconomic.

One would love to be proved wrong but that forecast closure is a veiled topic in Welllington.

New Zealand First is committed to upgrading the rail network in Northland.

Our position is that Northland needs good rail connections to the rest of New Zealand if it is to grow.

The potential of the Port of Northland for the region, as well as for the country as a whole, is being strangled by lack of an effective rail link.

We will use our Railways of National Importance Programme RONI (using $300m diverted from National’s $12 billion RONS motorway programme) to make a rail connection to Marsden Point as we see this investment as vital for the continued growth of this major port.

Associated with this we will invest in upgrading the main rail line to Auckland. This will mean enlarging or lowering the floor of tunnels to allow the passage of 40-foot containers, and the easing of many, many, bends.

Upgrading the Auckland to Whangarei line will involve substantial cost but it is not pie in the sky – it is manageable.

KiwiRail has estimated the upgrade of the North Auckland lines to be around $200 million.

This is sensible and makes common sense.

We say regions like Northland matter – they are heartland New Zealand and they deserve support, not neglect, from central government.

And support for Northland is what New Zealand First stands for.

ENDS

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