Wairarapa needs more government cash'

By Colin Williscroft colin.williscroft@age.co.nz

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More government investment is needed in regions such as Wairarapa, Labour leader David Shearer says.

Mr Shearer, who was in Wairarapa yesterday as part of a series of visits to regional New Zealand, said the return on regional investment was invariably greater than it was in larger urban areas.

"It gets sucked up much easier in the bigger urban areas. In regional areas, it's possible to target investment much more," Mr Shearer said.

Labour had learnt that it needed to develop a more robust regional development policy if it was going to be successful in the future, Mr Shearer said.

He arrived in Masterton yesterday to collect signatures supporting a referendum on the Government's proposed asset sales programme.

"It's the easiest petition I've ever had to get signatures for," he said. "People know about the issue and the response [to the petition] has been overwhelming."

He disputed a suggestion the Government had a mandate for selling shares in the assets just because they went to the polls on it last year.

Mr Shearer also addressed a public meeting at Carterton School to discuss the Government's education policy, in particular its backdown on class sizes.

"I'm pleased the Government did a U-turn on its class size policy but there's still a lot to cover by visiting schools," he said.

Labour's polling in regional New Zealand had improved since the election, he said, although there was still some way to go.

Mr Shearer visited Barry and Betty McAnulty, who will shortly celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

The couple, originally from Eketahuna, have lived in Wairarapa all their lives. Three of their six children still live in the area.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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