Cuts in South 'sick joke', Peters says

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters arrives in Dunedin today determined to talk to as many people as possible about the local and regional economy.

When contacted in Wellington, Mr Peters said he was concerned about the lack of regional development throughout New Zealand, particularly in areas where significant infrastructure had been paid for long ago by the taxpayers.

''Much of this is unused. It is not being expanded to help regions grow. I've listened to this psycho-babble for 28 years.

''The last person to have a regional development plan was Jim Anderton.''

Mr Peters quoted cuts in the regions to state housing, hospital services, schools, government departments and social services.

''The infrastructure is there in places like Oamaru, Dunedin, Timaru and the West Coast.''

The spending of money in Christchurch and Auckland was a ''vote-gathering exercise'', he said.

It was a ''sick joke'' that so much of New Zealand's exports came from Otago and Southland - along with other regions - but they were being neglected.

The city had lost Hillside railway workshops, New Zealand Post's Dunedin mail centre, manufacturing jobs from Fisher and Paykel Appliances and was now facing the lost of 85 jobs from the AgResearch Invermay facility.

''It is an economic fact that colder parts of the country are pulling their weight within the economy,'' he said.

Mr Peters is also in Dunedin to attend a New Zealand First fundraising dinner tonight.


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