Auckland is booming!Prime Minister
It continues to grow strongly.
* Auckland's economy grew 2.7 per cent in the year to June.
* Business confidence is up.
* Exports are up by 3.7 per cent on a year ago.
* Job advertisements in Auckland are up 39.7 per cent on last year. They are at their highest level ever since 1990.
* Unemployment in the region has dropped from 7.1 per cent two years ago to 6.2 per cent today.
* Interest rates are the lowest they've been since 1971.
* Strike days lost haven't been lower since when Labour was last in office.
* Auckland is enjoying the injection of $60 million in savings from ACC reforms. Labour would re-impose those costs.
* Many businesses are enjoying much lower power costs as a result of the reforms
* We're also lowering taxes, injecting a further $100 million into the Auckland economy. This has helped the substantial growth to occur
* All this means jobs. More jobs for more people who then have more money to spend on cars, entertainment, investment in new businesses and so on.
* The Auckland region has a younger population and National has reponded by investing $625 million in school property in the Auckland region to build 1,559 new classrooms and 5 new schools.
* We also have a new hospital being built in Central Auckland and plans are to be submitted to Government in December for the expansion of the hospitals in West and North Auckland.
* I am also very proud of our achievements in law and order in the region. Police numbers in Auckland will be 2039 next year, up from 1781 in 1996.
* Recorded crime is down 9 per cent since 1996.
National has invested in Auckland as Auckland has grown. But there's still much to do. A growth strategy is required.
I congratulate all those involved in the 50-Year Growth Strategy and the 5-Year Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy.
Obviously with the election less than a week away, National is arguing for a massive party vote endorsement from the Auckland region in order for the successes of this region to continue.
On the issue of roading, National agrees roading is critical to the future of business and the future of Auckland.
For our part, National is totally committed to investing more in our motorways.
We believe a vibrant growing economy offers the best choices for the future.
Auckland is our our biggest, wealthiest, busiest city with a huge international reputation. You must continue to grow apace and manage that growth as we go.
I would like to acknowledge the work of the local authorities in developing these three significant documents.
Whilst the Growth Strategy does not provide all the answers to Auckland's urban sprawl and transport problems it represents great progress by local authorities in the Auckland region.
Might I be so bold to suggest that perhaps the Government's Better Transport, Better Roads document contains some of the tools needed to achieve the full vision.
The most significant tool will be the ability for roading authorities to anticipate demand for roads rather than continuing to lag behind.
I am also talking about lifting roading issues to a regional level, which is at the heart of the strategies we are looking at today.
For the Government's part, we are committed to making decisions on these proposals next year, and we want to work with you as we have done over recent months.
In the interim, you have the 5-year Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy which lays out a range of transport projects that will focus on key pressure points in the next few years.
As you know the Government is providing $195 million in 1999-2000 for projects under the existing Regional Transport Strategy.
That means the Auckland region will receive 33 per cent of Transfund's total allocated new construction budget and 47 per cent of Transfund's passenger transport funding, this financial year.
And I am pleased to say that we expect to sharply increase our already substantial support of new projects, under the framework established by the Regional Transport Strategy.
You will be pleased to know that in response to your request for assistance, we have offered Jeff Todd to help Auckland local bodies and Tranz Rail to find a way forward in solving Auckland's passenger transport problem.
This should help the parties resolve their differences so that improvements can be made to key parts of Auckland's passenger transport system sooner rather than later.
Finally, I congratulate the local authorities on the Passenger Transport Action Plan, which contains some very ambitious proposals.
I note your plans to spend between $715 million and $1.5 billion on a rapid transit system linking the North, West and South of Auckland to the CBD.
Transfund is already evaluating some of the proposals in the document in order to achieve maximum benefit for all concerned. These are all problems that require solutions. We look forward to working with you as we settle what they might be.
Thank you for your kind invitation to attend this triple launch. I congratulate you all for your co-operation and most of all for your courage in committing a very large slice of Auckland's transport funding to your new proposals.
I wish you the best of success. I assure you that central government will be there to work alongside you all the way.