Thank you to all the voters that turned out in the recent local elections, which have shown a higher turnout from Hamilton voters than in recent years. Thank you to all the wonderful candidates that put their names forward for election. We had many new faces standing as candidates, so thank you for your participation in this process.
Congratulations to the successful candidates, we appreciate your passion and enthusiasm for our great city and look forward to your contributions. Commiserations to the unsuccessful candidates, thank you for your commitment to Hamilton and particular thanks to those who served our city in various roles.
One thing that we hadn't seen in the election was a general approach to projects for growth of the city. Contrast this with Wellington's areas of focus which have been prioritised by its new mayor — transport, housing development, airport infrastructure and further city facilities.
When previously in government the National Party had a deep commitment to the infrastructure needed to grow Hamilton. This included completion of the Waikato Expressway, funding for Hamilton Ring Road, new schools (eg Rototuna High Schools, Endeavour School), and a velodrome for the Waikato.
Hamilton needs to keep pace with the other growing cities around the country and to do so, we need to focus on big picture transport initiatives. First, in Hamilton we need the road from Cambridge-to-Piarere that was cancelled under the current Government.
This initiative would mean shorter, safer and more reliable journey times, as well as fewer road deaths and serious injuries in this area. Developing this kind of infrastructure is essential to build on economic growth. As the current Government prioritises rail projects in Auckland, the Waikato misses out on these important developments.
This $450m project was approved before it was cancelled by this government and replaced with a $90m Hamilton-to-Auckland diesel train, with the capacity to carry only 160 people. This has not been a beneficial investment to the region. We need to advocate for projects for our region, such as the extension of the Waikato expressway.
Secondly, Hamilton needs further development of our road to the airport in the Southern Links transport project, which aims to develop an effective transport network of state highway and urban arterial routes to support Hamilton's planned growth. This project has little hope under the current government.
Third, Hamilton also needs a commitment to extending the boundaries of the city. We have one of the smallest geographical boundaries in New Zealand and this is constraining our growth.
Lastly, the city could also benefit from a Waikato Medical School, which was cancelled under the current Government. It would have been a great opportunity for the region, particularly as the health care sector struggles to attract and retain rural doctors. These are the big ticket items Hamilton's local Government needs to prioritise, otherwise we will get left behind .