We'll revive regions: Labour

By John Maslin

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SEEKING GROWTH: Labour MP Grant Robertson (second right) makes a point at yesterday's Labour Party luncheon in Whanganui, which included deputy mayor Hamish McDouall (left), branch life member Jan Dean, and Labour MPs Clayton Cosgrove and Clare Curran.PHOTO/BEVAN CONLEY
SEEKING GROWTH: Labour MP Grant Robertson (second right) makes a point at yesterday's Labour Party luncheon in Whanganui, which included deputy mayor Hamish McDouall (left), branch life member Jan Dean, and Labour MPs Clayton Cosgrove and Clare Curran.PHOTO/BEVAN CONLEY

A Labour government would work to create a regional development with a clear focus on Whanganui, and working with local government and businesses to achieve it.

That was the message delivered by Labour MPs Grant Robertson, Clare Curran and Clayton Cosgrove who visited the city yesterday.

Mr Robertson said the visit was chance to see where Whanganui was at economically and hear from the community about the challenges and job opportunities and explain Labour's strategy to help achieve economic growth.

Their schedule included meetings with Mayor Annette Main, the Whanganui Chamber of Commerce, Whanganui and Partners and tourist operators.

"We talked to people about developing a proper regional development plans for every region in the country. The current Government has been very ad hoc in that regard," he said.

"What we're hearing is a call for a long-term plan where central and local government and businesses are going to work together."

He said Labour was working on regional economic plans for every region in New Zealand and settled on district council boundaries rather than broader regional council lines.

"It's not about coming in and saying this is what we're going to do but working with groups to find out where the jobs and opportunities could be. Because there are things like infrastructure to consider - the roads, rail links, the port. That's what concerns me because everywhere I go I'm made aware of a decline in regional infrastructure," Mr Robertson said.

He said he was sceptical of the Government's regional growth study launched last year.

"They sound good but when you divide that down to an individual community they often don't mean much at all. There doesn't seem to be anything new."

He said it was about looking to the future of Whanganui, what's going to bring people here, see them contributing to the community, and ensuring there are jobs to bring them here.

"There's so much more we can do when central government acts as a partner with local government and businesses. We have to away from those big areas like Manawatu-Whanganui. A regional growth strategy like that isn't the same as a plan just for Whanganui."

Mr Robertson said Government needed to have more faith in the regions themselves.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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