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Cunliffe: Regional projects key to growing workforce

MEDIA RELEASE – for immediate release

2 September 2013

Regional projects key to growing workforce

Labour Party leadership contender Hon David Cunliffe has pledged to use the power of Government to champion full employment by leading a nationwide programme of economic development.

Speaking ahead of addressing Labour Party members in Whangarei tonight (Monday) Mr Cunliffe said the economic development package he envisaged would move Government off the side lines and into new partnerships with communities, regions and local government that will create long-lasting economic and social value.

“There are some projects that can only be done with government as part of the mix, especially those ones involving major long-term infrastructure investments,” said Mr Cunliffe. “Under my leadership I will ensure that broad economic development value is included in the assessment of major projects - just as I did with the transport interchange in New Lynn.

“Let’s be clear. This is not necessarily about spending more. It is about spending more wisely and supporting the initiative and drive that already exists within our communities and regions. And these may not even be new projects. They may already exist – but they don’t fit neatly into Treasury’s current business plan for how they pick projects to support with central government funding. And that’s simply ludicrous.

“It means that great projects offering long-term jobs and sustained regional economic growth gather dust. What a waste. This is all about building our national assets – not selling them off.

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“Up North we want to investigate making rail pay and creating jobs by extending the Northern Rail Link right to NorthPort. By contrast, National is talking about closing down the North Auckland Line altogether. That would be a disaster for the North.

“National stood by and watched the Napier to Gisborne line close because KiwiRail’s books could never fully reflect the whole value to the Waiariki region of having a proper rail link.

“Now, what is the point of John Key spending billions on the main highway north of Auckland, only to clog it up with thousands of trucks hauling freight that could be more efficiently carried by rail?

“Labour will listen to the people of Northland and have the vision to invest in the infrastructure it needs. We will also investigate updating tax policies which will be good for regional development, especially in manufacturing and high technology.

“Or course, it’s not just Northland that has opportunities that deserve our support. There are many exciting programmes, such as Eastern Bay of Plenty aquaculture and harbour development in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, and huge opportunities in Christchurch. These have advanced through the commitment and passion of local visionaries. They are projects that deserve central government backing too.”

ENDS

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