The Opposition, which has almost no MPs who live in the regions has suddenly discovered us and is trying to talk us down in the hope we’ll believe their sad stories and then back them to make it all better.
Those of us who live in the regions don’t appreciate their negativity when we’re doing fine thanks, and we’ll do even better without the policies the left is promoting.
Forget the sorry fiction from the Opposition, Prime Minister John Key has the facts:
. . . New Zealand was one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD in 2012.
Business and consumer confidence levels are high, and manufacturing and services indices are at high levels.
And our growth is being led out of our regions, with just-released export figures showing a lift in primary sector exports this quarter.
The dairy industry, food and beverage generally, and the forestry sector, are important contributors to New Zealand’s economy.
And that’s reflected in the strength of our regions, nearly all of which have lower unemployment than Auckland, including the whole of the South Island.
Census 2013 shows that populations have grown in 15 of our 16 regional council areas since the last Census in 2006.
Growth rates are strong in places like the Waikato, Taranaki, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.
And we have one of the smallest variations in economic activity between our regions in the whole of the developed world.
But of course we would like stronger growth rates, and that is possible if we provide more opportunities and the confidence for businesses to invest and grow.
At the highest level we are balancing the books, getting debt down, keeping tax rates competitive, and helping to keep interest rates lower for longer over the economic cycle.
This helps give businesses the confidence to raise money and invest.
At the next level, we are putting in place policies to reduce burdens on businesses — especially small business.
This includes getting ACC levies down, introducing the 90-day trial periods, reforming the RMA so it’s easier to expand a business, investing more in R&D co-funding to lift innovation, and assisting small firms to grow exports with NZTE.
The Government is also encouraging some key commercial projects in the regions to help lift growth.
In Hawke’s Bay that means projects like irrigation, and oil and gas exploration; in Northland it’s treaty settlements, land productivity and the Puhoi to Wellsford highway. And in the Manawatu it’s the Food HQ project, and the highway link to Wellington.
Of course, any discussion of what we’re doing wouldn’t be complete without mention of probably our most transformational project — the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband and rural broadband.
Some $1.1 billion of the $1.65 billion UFB programme is being invested outside of Auckland and Christchurch.
It will lift connectivity and productivity for businesses right across New Zealand.
Faster broadband is already helping businesses in our area.
An engineer is consulting on projects in Africa from his home on a farm near us.
Farms are using smart phones in the paddocks and yards to transfer stock records to the office.
It will be even better here if the country’s Smartest town,Oamaru, becomes @gigatownoamaru the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.
But I digress, back to the speech and the reality that the Opposition which talks of helping is promoting policies that will do a lot of harm:
The Opposition is talking the regions down at the moment, but that is just politics.
Actually, the policies they are promoting would damage regional economies.
A recipe of more taxes, nationally-equalised pay rates no matter where you live, a rollback of employment law reform, higher ACC rates and a reversal of RMA reforms would severely damage growth.
It is the National-led Government that has the vision, the agenda, and the projects to lift the growth rate of our regions even further.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our careful, considered plans are working.
The economy is growing, and we are on track for 2 to 3 per cent annual growth over the next few years.
This will put us among the fastest growing developed countries in the world.
Wages are increasing. Household incomes are growing. Mortgage interest rates are at 50-year lows and cost of living increases have been very modest indeed.
Some 65,000 net new jobs have been created in the last two years and the unemployment rate is expected to drop as the economy gathers strength.
Business and consumer confidence are improving as we see momentum build towards a stronger, more stable, economy that delivers higher incomes and more jobs.
The crucial thing now is to stay the course and truly obtain the long-term benefits for our families and communities that we have all been working hard for. . .
We’ve made a lot of progress and we’re getting results but we’re not there yet and letting the Opposition deliver more of the policies which put us into recession before the global financial crisis hit would undo all the good that’s been done.