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‘Rural Think Tank’ taking provincial promise to the election

PRESS RELEASE

 25 February 2014

Focus New Zealand’s ‘Rural Think Tank’ taking provincial promise to the election

The Focus New Zealand party are sending a clear signal to the government that ‘Rural NZ cannot be ignored’ this year with a series of Rural Think Tanks at Field Day events throughout the country.

Launching this Thursday at the Northland Districts Field Days, Focus NZ will be hosting a ‘Rural Think Tank’ where they invite the public to brainstorm and challenge scenarios and policy ideas with a view to taking those ideas to Parliament in the 2014 election.

“It’s a little different to the think tanks in Wellington – there are no chairs, tables, paid expert opinions, or long lunches – but there will be common sense, diversity, provoking questions and a clear rural community message” says Focus NZ Party President Ken Rintoul.

“We will take that common sense message with us to the election later this year and call out some of the legislation and short term government perspectives that are making it harder for productive New Zealand to actually produce, employ people, be profitable and support our local communities.”

“For too long rural and productive New Zealand have been at the whim of our larger and expanding cities – Auckland’s growth demands have been at the expense of our regions, our towns and our productive sector is shrinking -  this does not bode well for New Zealand as a whole,” says Rintoul.

Rural NZ accounts for a significant share of export income and the Regional Economic Activity Report released last year quantifies rural GDP at $73.6 billion or approximately 40% (excluding the big cities Auckland 66.3b, Wellington 26.9b, Canterbury 23.2b).

Focus NZ was formed over 18 months ago and became a registered political party in December after gaining membership across NZ from mostly rural, manufacturing and export industries.

“We know we can adopt a better vision for Provincial New Zealand - one that understands its relationship to the overall economy, wealth and health of New Zealand - one which aims to support and foster provincial development and strengths, not dilute them.”

“One of the ideas we are developing is a Provincial Policy.  Focus NZ want to remove barriers to viable, profitable and self-sustaining economic communities using the Provinces as the building platform. We’ve drafted a Provincial Policy Paper around the concept and we are seeking our communities’ feedback on that this weekend. It considers tax, legislation, exchange rates, rural economies, job creation, training, RMA, environmental management, infrastructure, local councils, road user charges, regional investment funds etc.”  

“We are careful not to be the pot calling the kettle black and set up a Rural Ministry as that marginalises the cities, but the idea of our Provincial Policy says all Provinces, whether they be rural or civic have a place in New Zealand’s success. The New Zealand economy is the sum of its individual geographic parts, but we must also understand here lies the solutions too, let’s start working together and sharing the growth and solutions. Housing shortages is a classic example pushing up the cost of living for hard working families in Auckland, when we have plenty of empty sections but a serious job shortage in Northland; or where power shortages are prohibitive to manufacturing growth in the city and yet we sit on an underutilised natural geothermal power supply at Ngawha.”

“Focus New Zealand is about bringing Common Sense Solutions to the table for all New Zealanders, connecting the dots and not been too hung up on being left, right or green on the political spectrum.   We know for certain that the Provinces are key to those ideas and the future success of New Zealand, and we will take that promise to the election this year.” 

The Focus New Zealand ‘Rural Think Tank’ will be at site 342 at the Northland Districts Field Days, 27 February – 1st March

END

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