Southland’s low consumer confidence reflects the Government’s terrible record when it comes to regional growth, says Economic Development spokesperson David Clark.
“The latest ANZ Regional Trends report shows a massive drop in consumer confidence in Southland over the last year from a net positive 22 per cent last year to negative 7.2 per cent today, the lowest in the country.
“The Southland economy grew just 1.9 per cent in the past year; the third slowest rate of growth in the country.
“That means 3,200 people now out of a job, with the number of people on the benefit increasing by 20 per cent.
“Even for those in work the average weekly pay packet in Southland has fallen by 3 per cent to $970. Home ownership rates have declined and power prices have increased by 17 per cent under this Government.
“Southland’s problems don’t end there. The ongoing uncertainty about the Bluff Aluminium Smelter and a $104 million dollar shortfall for the local DHB has left this regional economy in a lot of trouble.
“Labour would turn this around by locating more public service jobs into the provinces and setting up a Regional Infrastructure Fund to support local initiatives which will grow jobs. We would also invest in health and rebalance transport funding which will have a knock-on economic benefit for the region.
“On the local level we would take a hard look at aquaculture and the IT industries both of which have a lot of potential in the deep South.
“Southland is proof that a once rich regional economy should not be left to drift into decay. The Government must act and act now,” says David Clark.