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26/2/2018 — Economics, Politics and Government
Seymour questions Northland spending

Leader of the ACT Party, David Seymour this weekend accused Regional Economic Development Minister, Shane Jones, of running a fund to benefit his region.

Leader of the small conservative party claimed that Northland was receiving twice as much money as any other region, as it was the home of Shane Jones and party leader and Deputy PM, Winston Peters.

Radio NZ quoted Seymour as claiming Jones was trying to buy support in the Northland region.

“The idea that the money going to Northland is because Northland was better prepared is possible but mighty convenient when that's the seat that no doubt New Zealand First would like to target at the next election.”

(It was a seat Winston Peters won in a by-election several years ago but failed to retain in the recent election, which saw him become a list MP.

Seymour said it would be a bigger boost for regional New Zealand if the Government reformed resource management laws, rather than spending on pet projects.

In the past week Shane Jones has put out several statements including that the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest more than $6 million towards revitalisation of the Whanganui Port and upgrade of the town’s rail line.

Jones said subject to a business case, the Government will support works to the port planned by Whanganui District Council and identified in the 2016 Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan.

“Redevelopment of the port precinct is a significant step that will help bring in new businesses and rejuvenate the region,” Jones said.

In a separate announcement Jones said the Provincial Growth Fund will provide $17.5 M to help create jobs, address infrastructure deficits, diversify the regional economy and enhance the tourism opportunities that exist in Northland.

“Northland has enormous untapped potential and – after years of neglect – I’m looking forward to seeing what the PGF can do in partnership with the region to transform this beautiful part of the country,” Jones said.

He pointed out that Northland has higher than average unemployment and he wanted a focus to create sustainable jobs and get more young people into education, training and employment.

Jones said there would be Government support for two cultural centres in Opononi and Whangarei, a Tōtara industry pilot to explore a new market in the forestry sector, construction of a new tourism hub in Kawakawa and a roading project to improve safety, reduce congestion and support the overall economic growth of the region.

During the recent election Winston Peters highlighted the development needs in Northland and claimed there needed to be Government initiatives to direct greater shipping activities into Northland - a point not warmly received by NZ port and transport operators, other than those in Northland.

Sources: radionz.co.nz & nzresources.com

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ACT Party’s David Seymoure. Photo: TVNZ.