Minister Bill English says he is concerned the ''Stand Up
Otago'' campaign is ''a bit too negative about the South''
when it has been performing better economically than the
The Finance Minister and Clutha-Southland MP told the
Otago Daily Times in Queenstown yesterday if there is
a two-speed economy, then Dunedin is on the fast track, not
the slow track.
''Employment growth is faster than all of the North Island,
except Taranaki,'' Mr English said.
''Per capita GDP is up there ahead of most parts of New
Zealand, so they just need to be careful they're not talking
the South down.
''It's actually been doing pretty well. There's job creation
going on, unemployment is significantly lower than it is up
North, which tells you that even if there's been job losses,
there's also been new jobs and they need to take account of
the new jobs.
''If you want to attract business, investment and jobs, then
you want to be telling a positive story, not a negative
Mr English said the Minister for Economic Development was
providing campaigners with information about just what public
resources have gone into Dunedin and they were ''very
He said he understood concern about the series of job losses
and it was particularly difficult for people who lost their
jobs, but unemployment in Southland is about 4%.
''We've had to adapt in Eastern Southland and that's
proportionately much larger than the job losses being talked
about in Dunedin, but people just got on with it,'' he said.
''I think we can all help the South by balancing that with a
focus on job creation.''
Mr English said he did not accept the economy was being
driven by Auckland and Christchurch, while the rest of New
Zealand was struggling.
The economy was being driven largely by growth in provincial
areas. High house prices should not be be mistaken for
economic growth and unemployment in Auckland was still 50%
higher than it was in the South Island, he said.
''Those two cities picking up are going to help the New
Zealand economy, but they are picking up from being well
Mr English said the AgResearch proposal of creating a hub in
Lincoln was a model which was standard around the world.
Asked for his personal opinion of the centralisation model,
Mr English said he would have to consider it, as a cabinet
minister, but all the questions raised by southern leaders
needed to be answered.