SPEECH: You have a right to be proud, but it’s not all roses, you’re being robbed
Campaign for the Regions Tour,
South Canterbury RSA ,
21 Wai-iti Rd, Timaru.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Excerpts from speech
We are on a Campaign for the Regions Tour to meet and listen to the people who, in many ways, in the corridors of power have been simply forgotten.
We have gone to towns and cities that from all appearances Parliament is not interested in.
We have found towns and regions that feel neglected and ignored by central government. Their voices are not being heard.
CARRYING THE HEAVY ECONOMIC LOAD
Now we have come to your city, Timaru and its hinterland.
Driving into Timaru we stopped to view the Phar Lap statue at Washdyke. As you all know Phar Lap was born at Seadown and went on to become the greatest racehorse in Australasia.
Timaru and South Canterbury have a great tradition of producing champions with names like Fitzsimmons, Lovelock, right up the present day with shot putter Tom Walsh, world champion cyclist Marc Ryan, Olympic silver medallist shooter Natalie Rooney and rally driver Hayden Paddon.
This remarkable record shows us yet again the great talent that comes out of our regions. It’s not just “something” in the water as the saying goes, it’s more than that.
You have a right to be proud. But look at the other great wealth that comes out of your region through farming, fishing, tourism, SMEs and industries. This region is making a major contribution to the national economy.
MINIMAL GROWTH DOWN HERE
Yet it is not all roses.
Infometrics’ provisional estimate of GDP percentage growth for Timaru District for the year to March 2017 was only 0.9, a slight increase from the previous figure of 0.6%. This is minimal growth.
On our trip we have learned regional New Zealand has been remarkably adaptable. They have been forced to be. But many of towns and cities still lack the vibrancy they once had. The disastrous right-wing economic experiment New Zealand governments have been on has gouged regional New Zealand.
Regions have struggled to keep their heads above water without any serious help from central government. Auckland is where the population is – Auckland is National’s fixation.
Tourism is lifting your local economy. Yet mayors here are struggling to pay for infrastructure – roading and toilets.
In the year to May 2016, international tourists spent $202 million in the Timaru district; $210 million in Mackenzie district. As a result of this the government pocketed a GST tax bonanza of tens of millions of dollars.
This is from money spent here in your region but it is going into the national coffers.
In today’s Timaru Herald page one, there is information that tells you just what is wrong with central government where the regions are concerned.
You have comments from the Land and Information Minister and Ministry for Business, Information and Employment, and Tourism Minister Paula Bennett.
First of all, Minister Mitchell said this: “the real challenge for freedom camping and tourism is district wide and so there has to be a combined approach if the district wants to encourage people to visit.” “LINZ is paying to put additional money towards The Pines area and will be discussing with the council what its role and contribution will be.”
Then MBIE’s spokesperson said “territorial authorities were eligible to apply to the fund (regional mid-sized Tourism Grant Fund).” But central government agencies, like LINZ, were not.
However, if a council wanted to put a tourist related facility on land managed by a government agency, “it could apply for the cost of constructing the facility which it would then own.” Tourism Minister Bennett said they were “working with local councils to meet the challenges of strong tourism growth.
Along with $8.5m in co-funding, from 42 projects, from the Mid Sized Facilities Grant Fund, Budget 2017 has invested $178m over four years to tourism infrastructure.
Including $100m in the new Tourism Infrastructure Fund. And there you have it really, you’re being deluged with tourists and the government wants a discussion about what it should contribute.
If there’s no toilet on government owned land, and you put one up, you can own the toilet. And then Minister Bennett is having trouble with her numbers.
In this year’s budget the funding she referred to was set at $102m over four years, not $178m. The government took in total $1.5b in GST from international visitors to New Zealand in the year to March 2016, and $950m the year before, yet little has gone to councils that desperately need money for toilets, sewerage schemes and local road improvements to cope with tourist numbers.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are being robbed blind, they are taking billions off the regions and giving peanuts back. Worse still, these scrooges are trying to make themselves look magnanimous whilst giving you a pittance back.
Under NZ First policy - we will return the GST paid by international tourists in the Timaru, Waitaki, McKenzie to these regions – for tourism infrastructure and roads, and to stimulate job training and opportunities.
Under NZ First policy – under our Royalties for the Regions policy no less than 25 per cent of the royalties will go back to the regions. Under NZ First policy – any water rights for exports will pay serious royalties which will go back to the region where the water came from.
Under NZ First there will be no more you having to go cap in hand to Ministers and bureaucrats to ask for your own money back.
• Small businesses are vitally important to Timaru and South Canterbury.
• They need incentives and assistance.
• New Zealand First will provide a wage subsidy for small businesses that take on job seekers and provide work experience. • We will provide immediate tax deductions for every new business asset costing under $20,000
• And a tax deduction for professional expenses when starting a business. We will get National’s nanny state off your back.
New Zealand First will also shift government departments out of Wellington and Auckland and spread them into regional centres like Timaru.
Too often the government has just sat by and let our regions wither.
The most recent example is the closure of bank branches. When Westpac shut down Fairlie’s only bank at the end of last year that was a big blow for the locals.
Westpac shut down 18 other branches in rural areas around New Zealand. ANZ shut their Waimate branch last year also. These are foreign owned banks taking taxpayers’ money and shipping millions of dollars of profits overseas. They don’t care about ordinary New Zealanders. National has let it happen.
New Zealand First policy – we will fix the Reserve Bank Act so the dollar helps exporters and not the paper shufflers, currency speculators and overseas banks.
Just as they let your local Aoraki polytechnic amalgamate with CPIT in Christchurch. Your polytech has faded away to a shadow of its former self.
DAIRY – ADDED VALUE
Dairy is our second biggest export earner behind tourism and is a major player in the South Canterbury economy.
The Fonterra factory at Clandeboye has been a boon for you processing millions of litres of milk from more than 895 local farmers making enough product to fill 70 containers a day.
But we need to be careful. You would think we would have total control of this vitally important industry.
We are steadily losing the added-value of our dairy produce, Chinese companies Evergrand, Synlait, Yashili, Yili/Oceania Dairy which you have in South Canterbury down near Glenavy, and the Chinese controlled 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.
FOREIGN LAND SALES
Some of our most iconic high country stations, some of them in the McKenzie Country, are also being flogged off to foreign buyers.
These are stations which have been in New Zealanders’ hands for 100 years and more. Foreign buyers snapped up 465,863 hectares in 2016, compared to 79,897 hectares sold to foreigners in 2015 Where is the gain for New Zealand? Our preference is for New Zealanders to farm and look after the land for generations to come.
ROADS, RAIL, SHIPPING
NZ First is committed to a massive campaign to seal local roads, improve overall road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible.
We want this country to have a fully co-ordinated transportation strategy with road, rail and coastal shipping.
We can’t have just trucks. You have an excellent port here in Timaru.
New Zealand First wants it to reach its full potential. We support the proposal to revive the Christchurch-Invercargill passenger train service. But there must also be more freight directed back to rail also.
Your region, like others we have seen, have been neglected and ignored by central government.
They take you for granted. They are remote from the people and have sat by and watched the drift north, to Auckland.
They don’t care that the South Island never had a Lions rugby test match this year.
The first time it has ever happened.
You can sit back and take all this if you want.
But NZ First says it is time to stand up and make a change.
Don’t be ignored; don’t be forgotten; don’t be taken for granted.
The regions of New Zealand must stand up and make their voices hears.
We will make sure you are heard.
New Zealand First will change the direction this country is going in and revive regional New Zealand. Everyone here can contribute. We can do it together.