In the run up to the elections in New Zealand, regional development is becoming a serious poll issue, reports NZ Herald. Both the National and Labour parties seem to be drumming up support from regional development bodies by showcasing their approach to regional issues pertaining to development.
Strong Poll Plank
The ongoing Local Government New Zealand conference in Nelson became the venue for airing their respective stands. The keynote address by the top leaders of these parties was an indication that regional development will be a powerful poll plank.
John Key for Task Force
Prime Minister John Key spoke to the large gathering comprising 550 mayors, chairs, chief executives and councillors from all parts of the country. The prime minister announced the setting up of a Rules Reduction Taskforce to cleanse regulations that had been confusing people and sucking up the precious resources of many city councils.
PM for Partnership
John Key's message was clear that that the central government would like to work in partnership with local governments. This will make life easier for ratepayers and grow the regional economies. His words echoed National Oarty's promise to relook all dysfunctional rules and make a positive difference to enable effective functioning of local governments.
David Cunliffe's Fund
However, Opposition leader David Cunliffe was critical of the neglect accorded to regions. He plans for a $200 million Regional Development Fund for regions if he comes to power. This will subsidise regional projects and create more jobs in the next 4 years. The projects of high priority will include the Opotiki Harbour Development and Marsden Point rail line.
Cunliffe said regions are the lifeblood of New Zealand, and Labour understands its vital importance if the economy has to grow.
Labour's Carbon Tax Deterimental
Referring to the Regional Fund plan announced by the Labour leader, Finance Minister Bill English reacted that Labour party has a problem and it sees the only way to run economy was to have the government as the driver behind it.
The regions will only suffer if Labour has its way to implement their policies, along with the Greens who may bring in carbon tax and curb farming-related activities. This is a grave threat to farming industries. Such policies are more damaging and the $200 million of lollies cannot undo that damage, the finance minister added
It is clear both the parties are looking at garnering the support of regions by expressing the desire to work closely with local governments.