There was more to regional development than just putting
money into particular projects, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said
regional revival needed
Speaking to the Otago Daily Times from the Local
Government New Zealand conference, Mr Cull said he had
listened to speeches by Prime Minister John Key and Labour
leader David Cunliffe on their perspectives for regional
Mr Key, in his speech, talked about the Housing Accords and
Special Housing Areas Act, a joint initiative between central
and local government to fast-track special housing areas for
Christchurch City was working with central government to
address issues related to the supply of affordable and social
housing following the earthquakes.
Queenstown Lakes, Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga City
were also negotiating accords.
Mr Key also talked about the Government's investment in
regional roads to get more efficient freight movement and
faster, safer journeys.
The Government spent more than $3 billion from the National
Land Transport Fund in the 2013-14 year.
About $2 billion was spent on state highways and other
central government responsibilities and more than $1 billion
for local roads and other co-funded activities.
Over the same period, local government put $913 million into
local roads and co-funded activities.
''So it's roughly a 50-50 split when it comes to local
projects and 100% taxpayers' money on all highway
improvements and maintenance. We're looking to spend more,''
Mr Key said.
Mr Cunliffe announced Labour would establish a $200 million
fund over four years to co-invest in infrastructure and
industry projects in the regions.
Mr Cull said said there had been talk at the conference of a
two-speed economy but it was not either Auckland, Wellington
and Christchurch or the regions.
It was the regions and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
There was talk about local government spending more on
roading but Mr Cull warned there could be a squeeze on
ratepayers if they had to pay for total upkeep of local roads
and more co-funded activities.
Clutha district spent the majority of its budget on roading
and as ratepayer numbers fell and populations aged, would
find it harder to meet those roading costs.
Milk tankers and logging trucks travelled those roads, while
contributing to overall economic growth, he said.
Central government had to recognise the contribution regions
made to the New Zealand economy and the dangers of not
optimising that effect, Mr Cull said.
Local Government NZ president Lawrence Yule said economic
growth across all of New Zealand was one of the single
biggest priorities for the sector but it was not just an
issue for local government.
Local and central government needed to work together to
reduce regional inequalities across the country.
''We need to find ways to develop our regional centres into
environments which offer opportunities in education,
employment and business as places where skilled locals want
to stay and set up business and where skilled migrants want
Local Government NZ would launch a series of roadshows in
coming months to explore how local government could enable
and support economic growth across the whole country, he