The Government must turn around what is happening in New Zealand’s regions for them to have any chance of long term prosperity, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.
In a speech to the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce today he says New Zealand as a country will not thrive until regional inequality is addressed.
“The regions of New Zealand are feeling neglected, undervalued and left behind.
“We must be concerned about what is happening in places like Northland, Gisborne and Whanganui where the ‘two New Zealands’ that Moody’s rating agency, described last year, is now really a tale about the fortunate few and the rest.
“The Government is exuding complacency. It needs to show a real urgency in diversifying the New Zealand economy to ensure we are not so reliant on the ups and downs of global commodity prices.
“The dramatic fall in the Chinese stock market, and the resulting loss of confidence in that country should sound a loud warning bell in New Zealand. We must diversify what we sell to the world, and where we sell it.
“Labour will ensure there are integrated regional development strategies that are a genuine partnership between central government, local government and businesses. We will ensure there is more investment in industries that will provide decent work with high wages such as ICT, high value manufacturing, wood processing and biomedical science.
“We need to show a real commitment to invest in the regions. We need an active policy of support for research and development through tax credits, stronger partnerships in innovation, education and training and procurement policies that give Kiwis a fair go.
“Let me be clear, the regions of New Zealand are not failing, but they are being failed by the Government. Labour will make sure there are opportunities to succeed and build a good life in every region,” says Grant Robertson.