Carmen is a social issues and rural reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

John Key, conscious of Bay homelessness

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Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller with John Key at Mount Maunganui Intermediate School. Photo/John Borren
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller with John Key at Mount Maunganui Intermediate School. Photo/John Borren

Some of the financial burden of infrastructure associated with property developments could be removed from ratepayers if developers were able to install it, Prime Minister John Key said yesterday.

"That is where we are going ... it's too much cost, the ratepayers can't afford it."

Mr Key made the comment while addressing staff at the Tauranga offices of professional services consultancy, Beca. It came in response to a question which queried the involvement of private enterprise in the future.

"The issue is council does not have the resources to pay for all this infrastructure, it's as simple as that. We have been chucking money at it with funding from Government."

A Tauranga developer had approached Mr Key about a housing development that the council could not resource.

"So what he wants to do is pay for the lot. Instead of the development contributions going to the council they go to the developers." There was no reason that could not happen, Mr Key said, as council did not build the infrastructure, but the move would require legislation once the Special Housing Areas rolled off the books, to support the Urban Development Authority.

Mr Key told the crowd the economy was being driven by low interest rates, confidence in the economy and migration.

Tauranga was attractive place to live and do business, and Beca was an interesting example of how "a lot of their international consultancy work is done in Tauranga ... it's a bit of a myth that everyone bases themselves in Auckland".

Beca regional manager Gavin Frost said the growth in the Bay was fantastic.

Mr Frost said the Bayfair to Baypark connection would be its biggest project and prior to that Beca were the engineering designers for the Tauranga Eastern Arterial Link. Beca was the largest employee-owned professional services consultancies in the Asia Pacific.

The company employed 200 people in Tauranga including 20 new staff in the last year, and 3000 staff globally.

"Many of our staff work from this base on projects in other parts of the country or offshore and they have a great lifestyle but get to deliver across the world."

Earlier, Mr Key told Mount Maunganui Intermediate students to follow their dreams, read The Open by Andre Agassi and "my mother said you will get out of life what you put into it".

Asked about the benefits of being the Prime Minister, Mr Key said it allowed him to do cool things, "like going into the All Blacks changing rooms after the World Cup" and "we stayed with the Queen for the weekend at Balmoral Palace".

Another student asked about the growing concerns around poverty. New Zealand had support services but "by far the biggest thing we can do is help people to help themselves".

He urged them to get a good education "then the chance of you getting the job you want and being successful is much higher. Nothing lifts people out of poverty faster if they can work and earn money."

To watch the video on John Key's visit, click below.

Video

The Government was conscious of homeless people in Tauranga, Mr Key told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"One of the driving factors of that has been rising rents and accommodation costs here in Tauranga and really effectively the spillover effect of what's been happening in Auckland."

He advised families living in cars to seek help from Work and Income and said more houses needed to be built. The sell-off of 1124 state homes in Tauranga to social housing providers could potentially fund that.

"We think there's a chance that a social housing provider will better meet the needs of the community and we can recycle that capital if we sell them to build additional properties."

Mount Maunganui Intermediate principal Lisa Morresey said the school was about to open 10 new classrooms and the roll had jumped from 340 to 630 in four years.

"This year we would have refurbished or rebuilt every single classroom and we have done a huge amount of hard work."

Mr Key also visited Trustpower's new multimillion-dollar three-storey building that has 6900sqm of office space, built around a 340sqm atrium, with interlinking stairs and bridges that could accommodate more than 500 staff.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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