PM prom­ises in­vest­ment in Auck­land

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DENISE PIPER

Prime Min­is­ter Bill English has promised fund­ing for Auck­land’s in­fra­struc­ture, as long as the rapidly-grow­ing city can de­cide what its pri­or­i­ties are.

Speak­ing to about 250 busi­ness peo­ple at an event hosted by Busi­ness North Har­bour last week, English out­lined the Gov­ern­ment’s plans to tackle big is­sues fac­ing New Zealand.

New Zealand faced the ‘‘right sort of prob­lems’’ of having to in­vest in in­fra­struc­ture to cope with growth, he said.

Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment was work­ing closer with Auck­land Coun­cil than ever be­fore, agree­ing to share the fund­ing for things like the City Rail Link, English said.

It was up to Auck­land to de­cide what its pri­or­i­ties were for in­fra­struc­ture, he said.

‘‘Money is not re­ally a con­straint. The Gov­ern­ment is in a po­si­tion, as long as Auck­land is do­ing it’s bit, we’re will­ing to sup­ple­ment work to a greater ex­tent than any other city.’’

English gave the ex­am­ple of $1 bil­lion fund­ing that the Gov­ern­ment had set aside for hous­ing in­fra­struc­ture in Auck­land. Auck­land had to de­cide where best to in­vest this money to cre­ate ar­eas for new hous­ing, he said.

‘‘We said to the coun­cil ‘show us the projects that could hap­pen sooner if you had the money’.’’ Auck­land Coun­cil was think­ing about a re­sponse, he said.

English said New Zealand was in a uniquely pos­i­tive po­si­tion due to its low un­em­ploy­ment, low gov­ern­ment debt, ris­ing gov­ern­ment sur­plus and sta­ble gov­ern­ment.

But he ad­mit­ted New Zealand faced some chal­lenges, in­clud­ing the risks to China’s econ­omy and whether US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump could meet the ex­pec­ta­tions he had cre­ated in the US for tax cuts and in­creased in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing.

English said in­creased tar­iffs in US would be bad ‘‘for every­one’’ in­clud­ing US con­sumers.

But he said Chi­nese Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang, who vis­ited New Zealand last week, had been pos­i­tive about Chi­nese-US re­la­tions.

‘‘This is not be­cause they love each other but, as he un­der­stands bet­ter than any­one else be­cause he’s an eco­nomics ex­pert, their economies are in­ter­de­pen­dent; they need each other.’’

English also talked about us­ing gov­ern­ment money more ef­fi­ciently and busi­ness-like, in­clud­ing in­vest­ing in chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion.

ROBYN EDIE/FAIR­FAX NZ

Prime Min­is­ter Bill English says Auck­land needs to iden­tify its in­fra­struc­ture pri­or­i­ties.

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