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Local government discusses how we can spread wealth

Local government discusses how we can spread wealth across all of New Zealand

Opportunities and risks arising from New Zealand’s changing regions were explored today at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Nelson.

Shamubeel Eaqub, Principal Economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, delivered a battle cry for change to the 550 plus delegates.

Mr Eaqub says economic wealth is unevenly shared in New Zealand, and gaps in economic outcomes and opportunity will get wider if current policies don't change.

“Secular and unstoppable forces – technology, urbanisation, globalisation and ageing – are marginalising many regions. Current policies are not working. It is an uncomfortable reality, but it is not without hope. It cannot be a conversation of envy about Auckland and the rest, rural and urban, environment and economy,” Mr Eaqub says.

“Each region will be different and unique so the same policy for all is not going to work; we need place-aware policies. Economies are not like a game of rugby – you can have two winners if we co-operate and work together for a better New Zealand. We must own up to the challenges facing our regions and the solutions, leveraging local strengths, must be for our young people.”

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says economic growth across all of New Zealand is one of the single biggest priorities for the sector, but it is not just an issue for local government.

“Local and central government need to work together to reduce regional inequalities across all of New Zealand. We want to develop a shared national strategy and we’ll be talking about changes we need to see during the launch of our Elections Manifesto tomorrow,” Mr Yule says.

“We need to find ways to develop our regional centres into environments which offer opportunities in education, employment and business, as places where skilled locals want to stay and set up business, and where skilled migrants want to settle.”

LGNZ will launch a series of roadshows over coming months to explore how local government can enable and support economic growth across the whole country.

The 2014 LGNZ Conference takes place 20-22 July at Nelson, with more than 550 local government delegates attending to take part in master class sessions, hear presentations from high profile speakers about significant issues and opportunities facing the sector. The theme of the conference is Powering Local Economies, Building Vibrant Communities.

ENDS

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