Time to lobby your decision makers
After the rigours of 2016’s local body elections, we’ll shortly be getting into the hurly burly of the run up to this year’s general election.
While, for some, the capital is simply a far off place swept by political winds the reality is it’s where we need to have influence to ensure optimal regional prosperity.
The Waikato’s ability to be heard at the highest levels in Wellington has been given a boost with the elevation of Hamilton MP David Bennett to join Taupo’s Louise Upston in ministerial ranks.
David and other Government and opposition MPS from our region are all passionate about advocating for the Waikato and local government leaders will continue to work closely with them.
The pre-election period will provide opportunities for the Waikato to get even more closely in the ears of the various political parties.
As we do this, it will help to have the many parts of the Waikato speaking with one voice, including local government, business and other interests.
Through the Waikato Mayoral Forum and other mechanisms, we’ve done much on this front already through the strong cooperation that has developed amongst local government leaders and others over the way ahead for the Waikato.
The consensus has led to greater local government and business efficiencies, and is due to produce even more benefits this year and into the future.
That solidarity and solid performance helps ensure we are attracting attention and being listened to by Government.
For example, just recently Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce came to Hamilton to launch The Waikato Story, a toolkit of resources to help drive economic growth by building a strong, consistent profile of the mighty Waikato.
The Waikato Story defines what’s unique about the Waikato and provides a framework to help better communicate the region’s value to potential business investors, workers, visitors, students and families, in New Zealand and around the world.
It is a key priority of the Waikato Means Business strategy designed to lift regional economic performance.
The strategy’s focus goals include increasing median household incomes to above the New Zealand average and taking the Waikato into the upper third of regions for economic performance.
Besides the Waikato story, examples of Waikato Means Business projects include boosting ties between schools and employers, drawing up a Ma¯ori economic development action plan, and looking to strengthen economic development generally.
A new Waikato Plan – helping the region to better talk with one voice on the key priorities and issues it faces – is due to be finalised next month and then go out for public consultation.
This will be the first time such a plan has been achieved in the Waikato.
It aims to join the dots within the region and is being keenly awaited by Waikato stakeholders, as well as those further afield (including central Government decision-makers).
I am confident all this collective work will reap even more solid rewards over time.
The pre-election period will be a chance to influence decision makers.