Speech to the Northland Chamber of Commerce

Speech at the Northland Chamber of Commerce

1 June 2018

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Introduction

Good morning, Prime Minister, Ministerial colleagues, and invited guests.

This is a very special day for Northland.

What today represents is when words in Wellington become a reality in the provinces.

Today is when political promises arrive as practical outcomes.

This is where a coalition government agreement comes home to roost.

And what is here today is a small start to a much bigger outcome, and an outcome which will be measured in many different ways.

This Government is firmly focused on delivering for people and providing a boost for Northland’s economy.

Northland, like other regions, faces challenges ranging from high unemployment, skills shortages to income disparities within their communities, and infrastructure deficits.

Today’s announcements

Today the coalition government is announcing a series of steps to help tackle these issues.

This government is making good on that promise today by announcing investments in the people and environment of Northland.

Youth will play an important role in shaping Northland’s future, both economically and socially.

The development of skills and education will help prepare Northland’s future workforce.

While Northland’s unique environmental landscape will provide the opportunity to off-set sustainable development, especially in the tourism sector and primary industries.

In order for these sectors to be successful, investment in forestry, housing and transport will also be required.

Adequate housing will provide positive health outcomes for families and whānau. While improved transport systems will ensure efficient links between services, business and communities, socially and economically.

The PGF

In the coalition agreement New Zealand First negotiated for the Provincial Growth Fund because the country needs a step-change for regional economic development.

The coalition government finalised the first year allocation of $1 billion for the PGF in this year’s budget – whilst still making major investment in health and education, and balancing the books with good surpluses.

The PGF will feature in many of today’s announcements.

The goal of the PGF to target projects that increase economic activity in the regions, to lift the skills of the workforce, to increase employment and wages, to improve use of Māori assets, and to improve transport connections within and between regions.

Priority is being given to regions that have traditionally have poorer than average outcomes such as Tai Tokerau/Northland, Tairāwhiti/East Coast, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Manawatū-Whanganui, and the West Coast.

Within the PGF, funding of $245 million has been put aside to support the government’s One Billion Trees planting programme for this year alone.

 Some political opponents have been questioning the coalition government’s programmes or the nature of these initiatives.

Yet those political opponents have questions of their own to answer.  What did you ever do? And how did you ever allow the neglect to develop?  

Today’s event marks a willingness by the coalition government to tackle the big problems in our regions which has been unaddressed for many years.

These are problems of economic under performance, inequality, poverty, and unemployment.

Four lane highway

Of late some MP's and local government politicians have criticised the government for going back on promises and plans for a four lane highway to Warkworth and Marsden Point.

First, I assure you that the Government has not cancelled the four-laning of SH1 from Warkworth to Whangarei. I say that because despite all sorts of promises by the previous Government and some local politicians not one cent had been set aside or budgeted for the 4 lane highway north of Warkworth. Nor was one cent set aside for the 4 lane highway to Marsden Point.  In fact neither of these proposals even appeared in the NZTA funding plan.

The Government has recently released the draft Government Policy Statement on land transport 2018, which sets out the government’s strategic direction as well as how the land transport system will be funded over the next ten years.

The NZTA has now released its draft Transport Agency Investment Proposal which sets out the investment approach and proposed programme of activities across all modes of transport for the next ten years.

The draft Transport Agency Investment Proposal has been guided by the new priorities and strategic direction set out in the draft Government Policy Statement 2018 and signals a new direction for land transport investment in New Zealand. It will strongly influence which projects and programmes of work the NZTA progresses and when.

The NZTA has responded to the changes in the draft Government Policy Statement 2018 which lays out four new priorities and six objectives. These include safety, improved transport access to economic and social opportunities as well as providing more resilience and choice, better environmental outcomes and infrastructure which delivers the best value for money. The final GPS 2018 needs to be adopted by the Government by 30 June 2018.

As outlined in the draft Transport Agency Investment Proposal, SH1 Puhoi to Warkworth is under construction and is due to be completed in late-2021. Additionally, NZTA is proposing to complete the work necessary for designations to be put in place for the new Warkworth to Wellsford road alignment. This will protect the route for when further construction is required.

The Whangarei to Marsden Point highway and Te Hana projects have been identified as requiring re-evaluation to better align with the draft Government Policy Statement 2018.

Conclusion

It has been a long time coming but more will be done today for Northland than by any government for a very long time.

Our goal is to ensure Northland can reach its full potential.

Today the foundation for that has been laid.