Bay News column

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Last week during Parliament’s General Debate I gave a speech about how the National-led Government is backing the regions to achieve their potential through increased support and investment.

In my Transport portfolio we have policies like accelerating regional roading projects and the Roads of National Significance, including the Tauranga Eastern Link, which is ahead of schedule and due to be completed by the end of this year. Funding for local roading in the Bay of Plenty has increased 47 percent since we took office.

We are also building national cycle trails around the country, which are helping boost our tourism industry, and supporting local jobs.

We are also focusing on increasing exports, which is essential to lift economic growth and living standards across the regions. For example, the Korea Free Trade Agreement signed last week is expected to save exporters an estimated $65 million in duties in the first year alone.

This is particularly important for kiwifruit exporters, a key industry here in the Bay of Plenty. New Zealand has sold as much as $76 million worth of kiwifruit in a single year to Korea. Our exporters face a 45 per cent tariff on their produce, which will be effectively removed after five years of the agreement. This will make our kiwifruit more competitive with the likes of Chilean kiwifruit, which is tariff-free.

We recognise that in order for New Zealand to do well, the regions have to do well - not just two or three big cities. National is supporting economic growth in the regions and backing them to succeed.