SPEECH: Decision Makers Too ‘Remote’ But It Can Be Much Better

Campaign for the Regions Tour – Oamaru

Brydone Hotel,
Thames St,
Saturday, July 8, 2017

Excerpts from speech

Oamaru and Waitaki have been under National control for many years.

Your present MP will probably be wheeled out of parliament.

When the Todd Barclay debacle exploded one commentator said a sheep could stand as the local National candidate and it would still get elected.

Waitaki  electorate is a bit like that.

But the thing we have found on our Campaign for the Regions Tour is that National has taken their regional strongholds for granted.

They have done little to help sustain and revive local economies.

Regions have been left by and large to battle on the best way you can.

It is the same here.


Waitaki has a very small ratepayer base.
The Alps to Ocean bike trail is a positive for this region.
But with your small ratepayer base, it will be local ratepayers who will be called upon to pay for its upkeep.


One of the major challenges you face is roading.
There are 1800 kms of roads in Waitaki district.
Of these 1076 kms are unsealed.
Many of them are taking a pounding from heavy trucks and especially milk tankers.
Your council spends around $1500 per annum less for each kilometre of road than most other New Zealand councils.
Yours roads are crumbling and falling apart – and what is the government doing to help you – what is your National MP doing to help you?


The beautiful lakes and Waitaki scenery, the penguin colony and historic precinct bring many tourists to Oamaru.
This brings dollars into town.
In the year to May 2016 a total of $55.6 million was spent here by international tourists.
That is great for your local economy.
But then you have to pay for infrastructure to cater for those numbers.


The government took $6.1 million in GST from those visitors in the year to May 2016.
None of this money came back to Waitaki.
New Zealand First thinks it should.
We will return the full GST from tourists spent tin Waitaki back here.
NZ First is committed also to a massive campaign to seal local roads, improve overall road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible.


The great driver of your economy is the rural hinterland.
The prices your farmers receive for their produce impacts throughout Waitaki and in Oamaru.
NZ First says farmers and exports are finding it too hard with our overvalued dollar.
Fundamental to a successful economy – and thriving regions over the long term - is an exchange rate that supports exporters and the regions.
Our Reserve Bank Act is out of date.
We have an overvalued NZ dollar that has been a bonanza for financial speculators and traders but not exporters. 
Despite the relatively small size of our economy our dollar is one of the most heavily traded international currencies
We need an exchange rate that serves real economic goals like strong and growing regional exports
The bank’s outdated focus on inflation must be ditched.
As a small open economy New Zealand is dependent on a competitive exchange rate.
NZ has a persistent and chronic balance of payments deficit – and this shows the New Zealand dollar does not reflect the underlying reality.
Risks abound in the global economy and New Zealand is highly exposed and vulnerable to any volatility. 
NZ First is committed to reforming the Reserve Bank Act as a vital step in safeguarding our economic future –and the future heath of regions like Waitaki.


Small businesses play a vital role in your economy.
NZ First says they need boosting.
We will provide a wage subsidy for small businesses that take on job seekers and provide work experience.
We will provide also real incentives for small businesses to help disengaged youth become work ready and support mature age job seekers back into work and tax deductions for every new business asset costing under $20,000.


Rail has a valuable role to play in the development of regional NZ.
New Zealand First supports the proposal to revive the Invercargill to Christchurch rail passenger service.
We want also more freight on the line to take pressure off our roads.
The National Government has run the railway network down to a neglected and parlous state.


Some of our most iconic farm properties are being snapped up by foreign buyers.
We have an Overseas Investment Office that just rubber-stamps sales.
The wealth generated in regional NZ is increasingly flowing into the pockets of overseas owners.
The losses of land into foreign ownership are staggering 460,000 hectares alone last year.
There is no requirement on foreign buyers to invest locally in downstream production or new technology.
Under our policy the rules would be strict - there would need to be clear, unequivocal and quantifiable benefits to New Zealand before foreign ownership was allowed.


Dairy plays an important part in your economy.
But we need to be careful.
We are steadily losing total control of this vitally important industry and the added-value of our dairy produce,
The Yili/Oceania Dairy plant which you have over the Waitaki River north of Glenavy might look good outwardly.
But it is Chinese owned.
Other Chinese companies Evergrand, Synlait, Yashili, and Mautaura Valley Milk have tied up Infant Formula production here.
China own, operate and control the supply chain from New Zealand to the baby’s mouth in China.
NZ First believes we must make a stand and stop foreign control of our greatest assets.


Another great lifeblood of your region is the Waitaki River which is used for hydro generation and irrigation.
It is a great resource.
The quality of our waterways is of deep concern throughout New Zealand.
New Zealand First is calling for the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management to be reviewed.
You must protect the great Waitaki River for future generations.


The people of Waitaki have done a great job to keep this region alive.
But central government has not played its part.
You can keep on as you are – battling away.
Nothing will change under National.
The government will drip feed any funding for your roads, hospital and infrastructure.
Bill English might have been a farmer once and comes from Southland but he and his government are remote from your lives.
New Zealand First says we can do it better.
We need new leadership, a new vision that fosters success in Waitaki and in all our regions.
Together we can make a better future for the people of Waitaki and for all New Zealanders.