Growth fund support
It has been another busy couple of weeks of Parliamentary recess, with a number of announcements of Provincial Growth Fund support for projects up and down the country.
Starting locally, I was pleased to be able to visit
Port Whanga¯rei and confirm funding for a new 560-tonne travel lift for Oceania Marine Group.
This will ensure that facilities at the Port will be able to keep pace with growing demand for the refit and building of workboats and superyachts. Revenue earned from the project will also help fund maintenance and upgrades at South Shipyard.
This is a project which has strong support from a range of businesses associated with the Port, and economic work jointly carried out by NZTE and Northland Inc show it will have significant benefits to both the regional and national economy when complete.
From there it was on to Manawatu¯Whanganui, to announce the latest in our series of regional packages. In total, $48 million was announced for the region, including $40m to fast track a new regional freight hub for KiwiRail near Palmerston North.
Palmerston North is a strategically important location for KiwiRail’s freight business in the lower North Island, with 2.4 million tonnes moving through its current rail facility last year. This investment will give KiwiRail the capacity to expand this and see more goods being moved by rail, while also increasing efficiencies across all transport modes. Freight demands across the country are expected to increase by 60 percent over the next two decades, and investments like this show the Government is serious about investing in transport infrastructure that will serve us well for generations to come.
I had the pleasure of visiting Manfeild in Feilding, where $2.8m was committed to help establish a national commercial driver programme. This will expand on the existing Class 1 driver training programme provided by the Manfeild Park Trust and eventually include truck, digger, 4WD, forklift, and roller training.
While in Manawatu¯, I also announced $40m in funding to improve highspeed internet coverage across the regions. I’m sure many readers from the more isolated parts of Northland can appreciate how frustrating it can be to not have a fast, reliable internet connection, and I’m glad that the PGF is able to help address this. Investing in digital infrastructure is essential for strong regional economies and ensuring that the more isolated parts of our nation are connected with the rest of the country, and the world.
While I was sadly unable to attend, it would be remiss of me not to mention the reopening of the passenger service on the Picton-Christchurch line for the first time since it was severely damaged by the Kaikoura earthquake two years ago.
I have nothing but praise for the men and women of KiwiRail who have worked tirelessly on the necessary repairs, and I was thrilled to be able to support this milestone with $40m of funding from the PGF to launch a new premium service on the line.
This Government is serious about rejuvenating rail in New Zealand, and I’m pleased that significant steps, such as those taken in the past two months, are already being taken to ensure this dream turns into a reality.
"Starting locally, I was pleased to be able to visit Port Whanga¯ rei and confirm funding for a new 560-tonne travel lift for Oceania Marine Group."