Bay News column
Last Thursday I opened the Tauranga Eastern Link with the Prime Minister. This $455 million project was identified as one of seven Roads of National Significance crucial to help grow New Zealand’s economy, which leads to more jobs and higher wages.
The road is now open to traffic, five months ahead of schedule, and commuters and business alike will notice the considerable time savings and efficiencies that this project has created.
The Prime Minister also took the time to attend the official unveiling of the Hairy Maclary and Friends sculptures on The Strand and address an assembly at Tauranga Intermediate.
This week Parliament is in Recess, which means I am out and about in Tauranga, meeting local businesses, community groups and constituents.
The sense I get from businesses is that confidence is returning and they are starting to look at hiring more staff. This feeling is backed up by the official numbers.
In the last four years the economy has grown at an average rate of 2.6 per cent, 194,000 new jobs have been created, and annual wages have increased by $5700.
By mid-2019, a further 150,000 people are forecast to be in work, and the average wage is expected to rise by another $7000 to $63,000 a year.
The high-tech manufacturing and construction sectors are doing well. I note that just last week the Bay of Plenty Times had an article in which business leaders highlighted a skills shortage in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty, especially in areas like construction.
Tourism is also growing strongly, with a record 3 million overseas visitors coming here in the past year, up 7 per cent on the previous year.
As demonstrated by projects like the Tauranga Eastern Link, the Government continues to support the economy with billions of dollars of infrastructure investment including roads and rail, schools and hospitals, and ultra-fast broadband.