Huge interest in Government’s infrastructure plans

  • Hon Shane Jones

Hundreds of people in little over a week have turned out in Northland to hear Regional Development Minister Shane Jones speak about plans for boosting the regional economy through infrastructure.

About 200 people from the infrastructure and associated sectors attended an event headlined by Mr Jones in Whangarei today.

Last week close to 250 people attended a similar event hosted by Infrastructure New Zealand, also in Whangarei.

“The number of people interested in hearing what the Coalition Government is doing to support the creation of critical infrastructure indicates the level of need there is in the regions for it. Better infrastructure, whether it be in transport, industry or public amenities, means more jobs, more export-led growth and more money flowing into the economy,” Mr Jones says.

“The Government is focused on establishing the Regional Infrastructure Fund in the first half of this year. We are ensuring it is done correctly, with the aim of building infrastructure that the people of Northland, and the rest of the country, can take advantage of and build on those investments.”

At today’s event, hosted by environmental consultants Boffa Miskell, Mr Jones encouraged those with significant projects to apply for fast-track consenting ahead of the Fast-track Consenting Bill becoming law later this year.

As outlined in the New Zealand First-National Coalition Agreement, a rail link connecting Marsden Point and Northport to the main trunk line, a dry dock at Marsden Point and a four-lane highway alternative to the Brynderwyns are infrastructure projects Mr Jones would like to see progressed.

“The Northport Drydock Project seeks to build a dry dock at Northport capable of serving some of New Zealand’s larger vessels. These vessels currently need to go abroad to Sydney or Singapore for maintenance,” Mr Jones says.

“Projects such as this will have many positive flow-on effects for the region and beyond.

“There are a lot of projects lined up over the next 10-15 years, which will be looking to be achieved with private sector support.

“Northlanders have a can-do attitude and the ideas behind them. This Government is saying ‘bring us your projects and we will consider them’.”

Kānoa, the Regional Development Unit, has previously backed 357 Northland projects to the tune of more than $836.7 million.

Over the last six years a total of $304.8m has been invested in the region for road and rail infrastructure projects through Kānoa, including $178.5m from the former Provincial Growth Fund for the North Auckland Line Essential Works.

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