English signals closer relations with local governments

Venkat Raman

Notwithstanding the fact that New Zealand continues to register robust growth, there are still a number of challenges, Prime Minister Bill English has said.

Speaking at a meeting of the Auckland branch of the Institute of Directors on June 23, 2017, he cited Auckland as an example.

His impromptu speech had the ‘make-good feel’ with constant references to ‘what is likely to happen in the next three months,’ meaning the outcome at General Election 2017.

Despite the severe criticism that he has been facing from his political adversaries over the ‘Barclay Debacle,’ he remained at his humorous best, saying, “Steven Joyce is a better Finance Minister than the previous guy.”

He referred to ‘changes coming for a better New Zealand’, carefully crafting his speech to suit the audience comprising top and senior management of large and medium companies in Auckland.

Infrastructure for Auckland

“Nine years ago, Auckland Council as we see it today did not exist. There were seven or so Councils each following its own agenda. The formation of a single Council has seen fast growth. The construction sector has grown by 20%, which is a record,” he said.

He said that there was closer cooperation between the central and local governments today than ever before.

“Auckland needs an investment of at least $20 billion to improve transport network and we know from where the money would come. There are many other challenges such as water supply, electricity. Investment in water infrastructure is equally important, especially in rural areas,” Mr English said.

Housing Plan

He said that the Government would build at least 30,000 houses in Auckland over the next ten years and that the implementations of the Unitary Plan will provide more accommodation.

“Amidst all these plans, we must be sure of what will work and what is good for the economy. We need to move away from the practice of ‘muddled planning,’ and pursue successful investment planning. We are moving towards a more efficient and people-friendly government regime’” he said.

Positive Choices

Mr English spoke of tax incentives, reduction of child poverty by 30% next year, raising education standards and achieving better public health outcomes in the community over the coming years.

“Development of the youth and providing them training opportunities to be successful in life and career is imperative and I hope businesses will take up the challenge,” he said.

Job Opportunities

Answering questions, Mr English said that New Zealand is creating 10,000 new jobs every month, more than any other country based on per capita population.

“We need skilled people through our Immigration Policy but we are not overdoing that. We want to achieve a proper balance,” he said.

Earlier, Liz Coutts, who became the first woman to be elected President of Institute of Directors a fortnight ago, spoke briefly about the Institute.

Photo Caption:

  1. Bill English with Liz Coutts and IoD Auckland President Clayton Wakefield
  2. Bill English speaking at the Institute of Directors Auckland Conference.

 

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