The Government had a vendetta against Dunedin, Labour
Party leader David Cunliffe said in an interview in the city
He could find no other reason for the ''callous attacks'' on
Dunedin institutions such as the possible downgrading of
AgResearch's Invermay facility and the closure of the former
KiwiRail Hillside Workshops.
''Dunedin is facing severe cutbacks by the current
Government. Labour has a huge focus on regional development
and Dunedin is a high priority for us,'' he said.
Immigration Minister and Dunedin-based list MP Michael
Woodhouse said Mr Cunliffe's comments were empty rhetoric and
he should explain to Dunedin and other taxpayers what he
would have done differently regarding Hillside and Invermay.
''I remain concerned about the possible effect of the
Invermay scientists moving out of Dunedin and am working hard
for the best outcome we can achieve for us and the private
sector. Mr Cunliffe needs to tell us what he would do
Mr Woodhouse described as ''nonsense'' the claim the
Government had a vendetta against Dunedin. The Government had
supported investment into an ''excellent'' transport
programme, Forsyth Barr Stadium, increased funding for the
University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic - both of which
were doing well - and funded 160 extra doctor and nurse
positions at Dunedin Hospital.
Keeping Hillside open would have required a $150 million
subsidy from taxpayers, he said.
Mr Cunliffe led the Labour shadow cabinet to Dunedin
yesterday and launched a health policy aimed at the area
covered by the Southern District Health Board.
The southern board, along with Waikato, would receive an
urgent roll-out of a bowel cancer-testing programme aimed at
preventing deaths in the two areas of New Zealand with the
highest death rate from the disease.
Mr Cunliffe said bringing the shadow cabinet to Dunedin was a
show of support for the city he believed had been hurt by
Government policies over the past six years.
In 2011, National won the party vote in South Dunedin,
something Labour cannot let happen again, if it wants to form
the next government.
Labour would soon launch more of its ''Economic Upgrade''
policy, aimed at the business community.
The policy aimed at providing better jobs and higher wages
for New Zealanders.
Recently, Mr Cunliffe had launched the framework of the
policy, followed by a forestry policy aimed at attracting to
the sector investment, industry development and innovation.
The next speech would launch the party's manufacturing
policy, following on from the manufacturing inquiry held last
''This will be of specific interest to Dunedin South, which
still has a heavy manufacturing heart.''
Dunedin North MP David Clark, who is the party's small
business spokesman, was on a nationwide tour formulating a
policy to help support the sector, Mr Cunliffe said.
Before Budget 2014 next month, Labour would paint a clear
contrast between itself and National.
In particular, Mr Cunliffe and his team would focus on how
the Government accounted for its ''paper-thin surplus'' when
there was a nearly $1 billion hole in the forecast tax take.
''There is a bigger question to answer than the Government
reaching fiscal balance. We, too, want the books to be in
black but it is not the complete solution.''
With dairy prices at record highs, confidence remained high.
However, the strong exchange rate was hurting manufacturing
exporters, he said.
''We need to improve our savings regime so there is not so
much importance placed on property, strengthen the domestic
finance sector and clamp down on tax avoidance through trusts
and company structures.
''In the current Government, Bill English is not Finance
Minister - just the accountant-in-chief. Bean-counting is his
Asked how he intended countering the raft of good news
flowing from the economy at present, including continual
surveys pointing to soaring business and consumer confidence,
Mr Cunliffe said Labour, like most New Zealanders, would
celebrate the good times.
Unfortunately, some New Zealanders were missing out.
''The 20-year highs in dairy prices are starting to come off.
You can see that in the GlobalDairyTrade auctions. Lower
prices have not yet flowed through into the payouts. There is
a risk in putting all your cows in one basket.''