Forestry farming and the environment are all important to the Rotorua electorate. Their success is a key part of building a stronger local economy, creating jobs and raising incomes, and ensuring we continue to experience the quality of life we deserve.
Locally these industries employ hundreds of people and bring millions of dollars of trade and investment to our region. They support the transport and engineering industries and play an important role in sustaining a growing service sector. In rural areas farming keeps our communities alive and is often the heart of local rural schools.
For these reasons I am a strong advocate of the primary sector in the Bay of Plenty, which is why I was delighted to hear the Government plans to invest $80 million in a new Crown company to act as a bridging investor in regional water infrastructure development.
The water infrastructure fund, announced by Primary Industries Minister David Carter last week, has been designed to help get regional water storage and distribution schemes started.
To do this the Government is offering to act as a minority shareholder, giving private investors the boost they need to get these projects off the ground.
Currently the projects that are most needed are larger regional-level schemes that require capable governance and management to get the best outcomes, as well as quite large amounts of money. However the Government believes that playing a bridging role will get the right projects underway.
Naturally we have access to plenty of water, but it can be better managed for the betterment of the economy and the environment.
The capture and storage of rainfall could be used to make water available during dry summer periods in many regions - for a wide range of uses and needs. There are substantial areas of land that could be more productive with more reliable access to water.
This is important for a number of areas in our electorate, but in particular for places such as Galatea where investment there would lead to increased productivity and the jobs we want for local residents.
I urge the rural sector and councils to get in behind this important initiative. We all have a vested interest in the environment and it is up to all of us - Government, council and industry - to work together towards a more sustainable future for Rotorua.
Further, reliable irrigation will be one more step in our work towards better water quality and the clean-up of our lakes.To date, the Government has committed $72.1 million to the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Programme. Clean lakes and rivers are as important as jobs and income for the local economy and I am grateful we continue to receive such good support.
Over the last four years the Government has worked hard to support the primary sector and rural families and communities and will continue to do so. With major investments being made in better irrigation infrastructure, cleaner water and a focus on building productivity, we can create a more sustainable future for you and your family.