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
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
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
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
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
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
''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.