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So it's back to school for Parliament...

So it's back to school and back to Parliament...

Memories of a long dry summer still linger - good for campers, tough for farmers.

I was lucky enough to travel a bit this summer - from the Far North to South Canterbury.

Everywhere I went I was struck by three things: 

- what an amazingly beautiful country we are fortunate enough to live in; from Cape Reinga to the Bluff, it looked a jewel.  Heck, even Wellington looked beautiful in the sun!

- what awesome, fair and decent people Kiwis are - everyone I met, everyone, was like this.  They want to do well, are prepared to work hard, and want their neighbours to do well also; 

- that somehow as a country we have not quite hit our straps yet - whether it is the small businesses struggling to raise the capital they need to expand, or regions with abundant resources searching for a coherent and sustainable way to develop them.

So, while it is hard to get my tie back on, I know we have a lot of work to do to make sure that ALL our regions are getting the rewards they deserve – not just some.

Last week, the Government touted some figures that he said there were more jobs in the last quarter of last year. Really?  The unemployment rate rose nationally, and underneath that a number of regions are still struggling to get a meaningful growth in jobs. In Gisborne-Hawke’s Bay the unemployment rate is 7.8%, and in Northland and Manawatu-Wanganui it’s even worse at 8% and 9% respectively.

In fact Gisborne-Hawkes Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, Wellington, and Tasman-West Coast all have fewer people in work today than the height of the recession – a shocking combined loss of 17,000 jobs since 2008.

I am so over the idea that all the best ideas come from Wellington.  So, I want to hear your ideas for how we can better capture the energy and ideas in the  heads of Kiwis all around the country?

-  How do we make sure everyone can really have a go at participating in the solutions?

-  What kind of hand-up is useful and meaningful from central government ? 

-  How can central government better support a new partnership with local government, iwi, regional communities and economic development opportunities?

What are your ideas?

Whether it's improving local roads (which the current government has starved in order to pay for its so-called "Roads of National Significance") or maintaining regional rail or air services; or pushing fast broadband out into rural communities beyond the main centres; or fixing up ports for coastal shipping and regional aquaculture projects.  Or whether it's pulling together the best brains in each region to get behind a clear plan that benefits local businesses and communities.

Labour's listening.