Labour promises city millions

Labour leader David Cunliffe vows to reopen Hillside, accompanied by Labour Dunedin North MP David Clark (left) in Dunedin yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Labour leader David Cunliffe vows to reopen Hillside, accompanied by Labour Dunedin North MP David Clark (left) in Dunedin yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien

Labour, if elected, will invest millions in Dunedin manufacturing and fast-track the Dunedin Hospital rebuild in a bid to restore the city's fortunes, leader David Cunliffe promised on a visit to the city yesterday.

The Hillside Engineering Workshops in Dunedin would be reopened using about $5 million from a new regional development fund, Mr Cunliffe told cheering union and party members gathered at Hillside Rd for the announcement yesterday afternoon.''

We're going to do it here, we're going to lead the way. Let's go, let's make a positive future for Dunedin and Otago,'' Mr Cunliffe said.

State-owned KiwiRail closed the workshops in December 2012.

Labour says more than 2000 of New Zealand's 3000 flatdeck wagons still need replacing, and the ones sourced from China have been of low quality.

Hillside would be reopened as a ''boutique'' short-run rail manufacturer, and KiwiRail's South Island base for heavy engineering and maintenance.''

We're going to reopen Hillside. We want more good jobs in Dunedin,'' Mr Cunliffe said.''

We're going to work through a process whereby the Crown helps make investments in this plant that will allow it to regain its position of being at the heart of Dunedin's manufacturing sector.''

The ''positive plan'' for Dunedin would also save AgResearch's Invermay campus from the scheduled downgrade in 2017. The agricultural research centre, which is set to lose most of its more than 100 jobs when its genomics team shifts to Lincoln, was important to Dunedin as a knowledge and research centre.

Labour has sometimes been accused of taking Dunedin votes for granted, and Mr Cunliffe clearly enjoyed announcing the party's unusually specific package yesterday, with its three big promises.''

You know you need to come home to vote positive and party vote Labour on the 20th of September,'' he told a cheering lunchtime public meeting of mostly party faithful. Dunedin Hospital would be rebuilt ''as a priority'', with an estimated price tag of $250 million.''

No more leaky operating theatres, no more rundown buildings. Dunedin Hospital's going to regain its place as a jewel in the crown of the health system of New Zealand,'' he said.

''They used to call Dunedin one of the four main centres. They will again under Labour.''

Building work would start in Labour's first term, the hospital retaining its full status as a tertiary-level teaching hospital. A Labour-led government would work with new lessees at Hillside, and the city's engineering cluster, to rebuild the workshops. Under new procurement rules favouring local firms, the workshops would be more likely to win tenders for wagon building, and would also undertake other engineering projects.

At his announcement outside the workshop, Mr Cunliffe was challenged by one of the new lessees in the facility, Paul Hickey, who was worried about the future of his steel business if the workshops reopened. In response, Mr Cunliffe said existing lessees would be consulted in the redevelopment of the site.

In a tightly packed day, Mr Cunliffe spoke to University of Otago students, the Otago Chamber of Commerce, party faithful at two choreographed events, and greeted the public at the Meridian mall and in South Dunedin.

A burst of hail dampened enthusiasm at the public walk in South Dunedin, but Mr Cunliffe popped into a couple of businesses to meet shopkeepers.

Mr Cunliffe said the two Dunedin Labour MPs, Clare Curran and Dr David Clark, had been ''relentless'' advocates for a fast-tracked Dunedin Hospital, and Ms Curran's advocacy of Hillside had been ''awesome''.

The Government has also said it will rebuild Dunedin Hospital, and earlier this year Health Minister Tony Ryall said he expected the Cabinet to consider a business case for the project next year. Recently, the Southern District Health Board told the Otago Daily Times a rebuilt hospital was eight to 10 years from completion.

Mr Cunliffe said he could not give a time frame for a rebuilt hospital, but the project would be fast-tracked, and would happen more quickly under Labour than National. Yesterday, National issued a press release in response to Labour's promise of 3000 new Otago jobs by the end of the first term, saying the region was capable of more.

Economic development spokesman Steven Joyce said 3000 jobs would represent a slowdown on job growth achieved in the past five years.

''In the last five years, our policy mix has seen 23,000 extra jobs created in the Otago region according to Statistics New Zealand. That's an average of 4600 jobs a year,'' Mr Joyce said.


Hillside wasn't viable because the governent of the day refused permission for Hillside to tender for key contracts and the ones it did allow the government didn't allow for the downstream flow on money into the economy not to mention the money was no longer even staying in NZ and other factors. The substandard product they have recieved has already cost more than the tender difference let alone the cost of benefits for the former employees , the cost of having engines and flat decks out of service etc. Reminds me of an old saying "you get what you pay for" - especially true in this case.

Capital gains tax

Of course there should be a capital gains tax. Every other business has to pay tax - why not property when a profit has been made? It won't affect people with the one and only home they live in. Its long overdue in NZ


3rd party insurance

Now that's a policy I'd support 100%, regardless of the party with enough guts to implement it.

Capital idea

If they are going to bring in capital gains tax on second homes then whoopee! That's another great reason to vote for them! It's about time homes became just that and not the cash cow for the rich that they have become. If you can afford two homes then the one you use to make an income should cost you in tax. Add to that compulsory 3rd party car insurance and we might just be getting there.

Wake Up You Lot

Lets get real here. Forget the past - I realise that is far from easy here in NZ as we cling to what little 'history' we can which in itself holds us back and keeps us forking out millions. It does not matter who gets in as long as we get something out of it. If an investment here in Dunedin is on offer then that's good enough for me. Any party who gets three terms will stuff up the country - just look at good old Maggie Thatcher and what that led to. I dont do politics as in the end we never win, but the current lot have zero interest in anything below Christchurch, so if the next lot want to spend millions here they get my vote whatever party they belong to.


Agreed, md. If they must subsidise commercial entities with our money to buy votes they should at least pick something viable.


Excuse me Mr Cunliffe , dont you remember the reason why Hillside workshops declined into the state they are today? Well, here is  a reminder ..  Think  Labour under David Lange.  Richard Prebble sold off the Railways , and the Unions you intend to patsy up to finished off the rest .. it was never possible to compete again. And your going to do it with a paltry $5 million injection?

Pre-election lollies scramble

Mr Cunliffe has arleady made so many money promises.. I am not sure where all that money would come from. I can smell capital gain tax coming up and even that wouldnt cover the amounts he has already promised if elected. Maybe he has no idea about basic mathematics, accounting & budgetting. Dont get fooled, people.

Well it's an election year

When National came in they turned the focus to cutting waiting times that the previous Labour Government hadn't addressed very well, yet had spent much more on paper shuffling.  And National has already indicated that the Dunedin Hospital is to be updated so I don't see why Labour own that point - they also had 9 years to do something about it. It's also a little bit rich from Cunliffe how he could not give a time frame for a rebuilt hospital.

So Save the Invermay, forgot about Hillside and let private businesses have more freedom to set up large hotels, apartments and others. That's where jobs will come from. [Abridged]

Empty promises

Labour promised the hospital everything when it was last in power but gave it nothing. All of a sudden we're to believe things will change? I think not.


Labour's promises

If Mr Cunliffe is lying, I would expect him and his local officials to tender their resignations, or be forced to, before the elections of 2017.   

Alternatives to re-establishing Hillside

If Labour is dead keen on this spend then maybe, just maybe, there is a more effective investment to be made. Why not canvass the City for proposals. It shouldn't be difficult to come up with business ideas, relevant to today's society, in which we have a natural advantage, where our cost structure could help rather than hinder and, most important, where we were likely to be able to achieve a global competitive advantage without taxpayer subsidy. Basically something that would generate real growth and long-term employment for our City and Country.


Just cynically trying to buy our votes. Hillside is not economical - we are going to subsidise it with taxes if Labour gets in. While Invermay should be retained Cunliffe knows he sets a dangerous precedent if he meddles with a SOE's operation. The only good thing here is the rebuild of the hospital which I believe National have scheduled anyway.

Fast track upgraded hospital

And I believe him.

Anyone who has been in Dunedin hospital in the past few years will have seen its rundown condition....... and that's what the public see. Ask the staff what it's like behind the scenes. Private hospitals are, in contrast, looking good.

A hospital attached to a medical school should be the best you can get.

Millions promised

Now that is a positive headline.

Don't believe it

Ryall reportedly stated: ''In the last five years, our policy mix has seen 23,000 extra jobs created in the Otago region according to Statistics New Zealand. That's an average of 4600 jobs a year,'' Mr Joyce said.

I find that somewhat difficult to believe. Perhaps the ODT could follow that up by asking him to present proof and inquire of him as to how many jobs were lost in Otago Region over the same period. Were these fulltime jobs or one hour a week jobs (per the Stats department definition of 'employed'.

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