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LGNZ welcomes Labour’s announcement on regional development

LGNZ welcomes Labour’s announcement on regional development

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has welcomed today’s announcements from Leader of the Opposition David Cunliffe on regional development.

The Hon Cunliffe launched Labour’s regional development policy to more than 550 delegates at the annual 2014 Local Government New Zealand Conference in Nelson.

The theme of the conference is Powering Local Economies, Building Vibrant Communities. Delegates included mayors, chairs, chief executives, councillors and senior management from New Zealand's councils and stakeholders from the private sector, government and non-government agencies.

The Hon Cunliffe announced Labour’s new policy that seeks to identify the opportunities and barriers to growth, and will introduce practical measures to create change. Labour’s $200 million regional development fund, he says, will be released over four years for projects that will have community-wide benefits and generate jobs in regions across New Zealand.

“Increasingly the New Zealand economy is split between Canterbury, which is now growing quickly buoyed by the efforts for the rebuild, the main centres where there is moderate growth and the regions where economies are stagnant or going backwards,” the Hon Cunliffe says.

“Making sure the economic potential of New Zealand’s regions is unlocked is critical to making sure New Zealand’s economy prospers. We understand every region is different and has its own strengths; we don’t believe in one size fits all.”

Some good business ideas don’t make it to the business case stage, the Labour leader says, without cornerstone financial backing which Labour seeks to address.

“We want to see regional development funding enable step changes in regional economies. The projects supported must make a real difference to regional growth plans, and will involve better use of resources. They must have measurable economic and social returns with clear and documented rationales that must complement private sector investment.”

The Hon Cunliffe says the fund will be managed by an independent panel of experts including local government, business and iwi.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule welcomed this support for regional economic development, which is one of LGNZ’s key seven strategic policy priorities in the LGNZ Policy Statement and the LGNZ 2014 Manifesto that was released this morning.

“Activity that helps regions is important but it needs to be sustainable. New Zealand’s economic growth strategy needs to consider the nation as a whole and the needs of its regions. We need to find ways to make our regional centres attractive for investment and for skilled migrants to settle. For this to occur, there needs to be a shared national strategy developed with central government.”

“LGNZ is also advocating for the distribution of a share of royalties from mineral, oil and gas extraction to the communities where it takes place,” Mr Yule says.

“We look forward to continuing discussion and dialogue on regional development with all political parties in the lead up to the elections, as it is vital the sectors have strong communication and a shared strategy to create economic growth across all of New Zealand.”

ENDS

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