Growth fund sup­port

The Northland Age - - Local Life / Opinion -

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."

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