Government to address 'infrastructure deficit' in provinces

SHARING A LAUGH: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri and Herewini Te Koha of the Runanganui (background) share a lighter moment at the opening of nine emergency housing units at Te Tini o Porou yesterday. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell
The Prime Minister with Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
Prime Minister Ardern boarded the waka hourua or traditional voyaging waka Tairawhiti, docked at the inner harbour, during her visit to Gisborne yesterday. Tairawhiti Voyaging Trust chief executive Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp shows her the ropes.
The prime minister shares a moment with local macadamia mover and shaker, Vanessa Hayes of Torere Macadamias.
A full welcome from students at Waikirikiri Primary.

SUPPORTERS of the Gisborne to Wairoa rail line received a setback yesterday with not even a feasibility study for the line's reinstatement included in announcements launching the Government’s $1 billion-a-year Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones indicated this was because lukewarm support existed in the district for reopening the line.

Speaking to media after yesterday’s announcements, which included a pledge for initial spending in Gisborne of $4.2 million, Mr Jones said he had received mixed signals about rail for Gisborne.

Reinstating the Napier to Wairoa line, which received $5m of funding yesterday, was “a no-brainer,” he said.

But various leaders in Gisborne had different views about whether rail services should be extended to Gisborne.

“Should it be additional capacity at the port? Should it be the opening of the rail line? There’s pretty grand visions about the road over the Whareratas.

“‘We’re not writing Gisborne rail out of the script but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say today that I have not been presented with that case. There’s political will to back rail, but there’s also an acknowledgement that ports and coastal shipping is equally as important,’’ Mr Jones said.

The Minister repeated, in his public presentation, previous comments that he would be a “provincial champion”.

The PGF policy was aimed at turning lives around in “neglected provinces” and allowing the regions to share in the prosperity of metropolitan New Zealand.

Not acceptable to leave to market

Leaving those issues to be determined by the market was not acceptable.

The PGF would be advised by a top investment advisory body within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. There was no time for bureaucratic advisers whose “feet are covered with treacle’’.

“I’m on a 1000-day hikoi. This is a government that can make decisions at pace.”

But civic and business leaders had to be organised, he said.

“The pace of bureaucracy will be commensurate with the progress you want to make in your region.”

A progressive Government, including the “wise leadership” of Winston Peters, had taken 'a bloody big risk',” Mr Jones said.

“But I’m up for the task.’’

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said Gisborne-Tairawhiti typified what the Government was trying to do with the PGF.

The “huge infrastructure deficit’’ in provincial New Zealand was an area of absolute agreement between Labour and New Zealand First in coalition negotiations.

The policy was pushed by New Zealand First and was personal to Mr Jones, Mr Peters and herself.

The PGF was at the heart of what the Government wanted to achieve.

In a dig at the previous government, Ms Ardern said her government did not want to leave the market to determine which parts of the country shared in prosperity and which fell to the wayside.

Initial announcement

The initial announcement amounted to about $61m invested in Tairawhiti, Northland, Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast, she said.

Areas of high unemployment, deprivation and potential, “That is where this Government wants to be”.

The initiatives would lead to a potential 700 direct jobs and $344m of public and private investment into the regions.

“But it is just the beginning,” she said.

The policy of growing a billion trees would be a legacy about jobs, regional development and the environment.

“We want to listen and collaborate with communities and local government,” she said.

“Keep the ideas coming and work with us. That is where the magic will happen.”

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) president Dave Cull told The Gisborne Herald the launch of the fund was great news for the regions.

Gisborne and Northland had been identified as first in the queue, but it had been aimed at all the regions outside the three main centres.

It had the enormous potential to kick-start areas that had potential but not enough resources.

Mr Cull said he told Mr Jones that LGNZ would offer help. It was in the interests of both local and central government to make it work.

“It’s a huge opportunity.’’

East Coast National MP and Deputy Speaker of the House Anne Tolley was present on the War Memorial Theatre stage when the policy was launched. It was good to see so many Cabinet Ministers in Gisborne, she said.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti’s Meka Whaitiri, Willy Jackson, David Parker, Green Party leader James Shaw and Labour list MP Kiri Allan were present.

Mrs Tolley said the Government was building on National’s Regional Development Action Plans, advancing the aquifer recharge and wood engineering projects and retaining “all our workforce development programmes’’.

But where was Gisborne in the launch video?

“Their lovely promotional video featured every region but ours,” she said.

SUPPORTERS of the Gisborne to Wairoa rail line received a setback yesterday with not even a feasibility study for the line's reinstatement included in announcements launching the Government’s $1 billion-a-year Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones indicated this was because lukewarm support existed in the district for reopening the line.

Speaking to media after yesterday’s announcements, which included a pledge for initial spending in Gisborne of $4.2 million, Mr Jones said he had received mixed signals about rail for Gisborne.

Reinstating the Napier to Wairoa line, which received $5m of funding yesterday, was “a no-brainer,” he said.

But various leaders in Gisborne had different views about whether rail services should be extended to Gisborne.

“Should it be additional capacity at the port? Should it be the opening of the rail line? There’s pretty grand visions about the road over the Whareratas.

“‘We’re not writing Gisborne rail out of the script but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say today that I have not been presented with that case. There’s political will to back rail, but there’s also an acknowledgement that ports and coastal shipping is equally as important,’’ Mr Jones said.

The Minister repeated, in his public presentation, previous comments that he would be a “provincial champion”.

The PGF policy was aimed at turning lives around in “neglected provinces” and allowing the regions to share in the prosperity of metropolitan New Zealand.

Not acceptable to leave to market

Leaving those issues to be determined by the market was not acceptable.

The PGF would be advised by a top investment advisory body within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. There was no time for bureaucratic advisers whose “feet are covered with treacle’’.

“I’m on a 1000-day hikoi. This is a government that can make decisions at pace.”

But civic and business leaders had to be organised, he said.

“The pace of bureaucracy will be commensurate with the progress you want to make in your region.”

A progressive Government, including the “wise leadership” of Winston Peters, had taken 'a bloody big risk',” Mr Jones said.

“But I’m up for the task.’’

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said Gisborne-Tairawhiti typified what the Government was trying to do with the PGF.

The “huge infrastructure deficit’’ in provincial New Zealand was an area of absolute agreement between Labour and New Zealand First in coalition negotiations.

The policy was pushed by New Zealand First and was personal to Mr Jones, Mr Peters and herself.

The PGF was at the heart of what the Government wanted to achieve.

In a dig at the previous government, Ms Ardern said her government did not want to leave the market to determine which parts of the country shared in prosperity and which fell to the wayside.

Initial announcement

The initial announcement amounted to about $61m invested in Tairawhiti, Northland, Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast, she said.

Areas of high unemployment, deprivation and potential, “That is where this Government wants to be”.

The initiatives would lead to a potential 700 direct jobs and $344m of public and private investment into the regions.

“But it is just the beginning,” she said.

The policy of growing a billion trees would be a legacy about jobs, regional development and the environment.

“We want to listen and collaborate with communities and local government,” she said.

“Keep the ideas coming and work with us. That is where the magic will happen.”

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) president Dave Cull told The Gisborne Herald the launch of the fund was great news for the regions.

Gisborne and Northland had been identified as first in the queue, but it had been aimed at all the regions outside the three main centres.

It had the enormous potential to kick-start areas that had potential but not enough resources.

Mr Cull said he told Mr Jones that LGNZ would offer help. It was in the interests of both local and central government to make it work.

“It’s a huge opportunity.’’

East Coast National MP and Deputy Speaker of the House Anne Tolley was present on the War Memorial Theatre stage when the policy was launched. It was good to see so many Cabinet Ministers in Gisborne, she said.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti’s Meka Whaitiri, Willy Jackson, David Parker, Green Party leader James Shaw and Labour list MP Kiri Allan were present.

Mrs Tolley said the Government was building on National’s Regional Development Action Plans, advancing the aquifer recharge and wood engineering projects and retaining “all our workforce development programmes’’.

But where was Gisborne in the launch video?

“Their lovely promotional video featured every region but ours,” she said.

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Richard - 5 months ago
Gisborne got what it deserved - Rejection.
There's a Mayor who has flip flopped on rail for years and the GDC's dispassionate whispered support, constructing a comatose attitude on reinstatement aided by National's local champion's love affair with tarmac blackening the rail cause at every opportunity. Plus the coterie of local vested interest groups that are anti-rail; misguided in a belief that rail will damage their income streams. Finally couple all with a naive business community incapable of grasping the benefits to their bottom line that rail can deliver: freight distribution and deliverance of greater consumer footfalls through their doors. Therein you have the solid foundation for the rebuff justly handed out.

None of the aforementioned have stood resolutely behind the extra commerce that rail can deliver into the region's economy. No, instead all the above have chosen to have invested their minds and hearts in the port as the only avatar of Gisborne's economic growth.

And, the dismissal of track investment does not entirely lay with the above. The pro-rail community has dammed its own cause time and again by submitting proposals that have lacked a transparent validated fiscal business case for the long-term sustainability of the track. Pages full of hot air and more black holes than a Stephen Hawkins thesis. Smoke and mirrors will not win against other claimants to the PGF.

Alone, the individual pro-rail voices within the opinion column of The Herald will not secure the line's reinstatement if they are not solidly backed by a co-ordinated single galvanised expert rail campaign team comprised of blue-sky entrepreneurial thinkers inclusive of local councillors, political leaders, corporate bodies and individual business owners. Pro-active leaders not laggards. On the battlefield for investment, emotional pleading is not enough - only collective, substantive data delivers.

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