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National launched its election campaign in virtual mode yesterday but with a concrete promise for Dunedin.
"We really will get Dunedin Hospital built," National Party leader Judith Collins pledged yesterday, during a speech delivered to a small, socially distanced audience in a Wellington television studio, rather than in a packed town hall as the party had originally intended.
"We will upgrade healthcare infrastructure as part of a health system that is modern, high-quality and available to all New Zealanders."
Ms Collin’s speech did not break new ground, rather re-emphasising already announced National policy, such as reform of the Resource Management Act, investment in transport links and other infrastructure projects, tax cuts and support for businesses struggling during Covid-19 lockdown.
National’s Invercargill candidate, Penny Simmonds, was featured in the preamble to Ms Collins speech, beaming in live from the southern city.
"Down here in Invercargill we are delighted that National is going to negotiate and make sure that Tiwai aluminium smelter keeps operating after August next year," she said.
"Our farmers are so relieved that National will repeal those dreadful fresh water regulations, that are just not workable down here."
Ms Simmonds, on leave from her position as chief executive of the Southern Institute of Technology, also pledged National would rewind Labour’s reform of vocational education and restore the autonomy of SIT.
Dunedin candidate Michael Woodhouse and Taieri candidate Liam Kernaghan joined forces for a combined launch party at the Otago golf club.
Mr Kernaghan welcomed Ms Collins having made a special mention of the new Dunedin Hospital.
“It’s incredibly welcome news for all of us to know National will just get the hospital built. No more dithering and no more delays."
Last week, Health Minister Chris Hipkins announced that Cabinet had agreed in principle to the detailed business case for the hospital, although final sign-off would not be until next year.
Cabinet also approved $127 million to continue work on the central city site.