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MPs break down inflation issues

Two of Wairarapa’s resident MPs agree that the cost of living is the most significant issue currently facing the region – if not the major issue.

But while they agree on the problem, there are important differences in how they believe it should be addressed.

According to Wairarapa MP Mike Butterick, controlling inflation, supporting businesses, and introducing fast-track consenting for infrastructure projects are among the government’s key tools in tackling inflation.

However, Labour list MP and former Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty reckons the new government has so far not done anything that would make a difference.

“The cost-of-living crisis is the most pressing issue in town and country,” Butterick said, adding New Zealand has slipped on international indicators like competitiveness, real incomes, and housing affordability.

“We know New Zealand can be so much wealthier, so much more productive, and work so much smarter than it is today.

“For the Wairarapa, that translates into living cost affordability and the sustainability of our many small local businesses, pressure at the supermarket and at the farmgate.”

Butterick said he hears from people every day who are struggling with high inflation.

“Getting inflation under control is an absolute priority,” he said.

“Wairarapa’s infrastructure needs attention.

“We will deliver a fast track permitting and consenting regime, look to private funding and financing for roads and houses, and cut through the barriers to moving forward.”

McAnulty, meanwhile, said the new government has repealed legislation aimed at reducing costs and introduced new charges.

“The main issue facing the region is the cost of living,” he said.

“The government has not done anything that will make a difference to the cost of living, and that was their main election platform.

“The way to address the cost-of-living crisis is not to impose more costs on people.”

McAnulty cited higher road user charges, higher fuel prices, and the reversal of the affordable water reform legislation as among government initiatives that will be likely to push costs up even further.

“Where this will lead is a further increase in rates,” he said of the repeal of water reform legislation.

“The government has pushed services back on local authorities, and the only way they can deal with it is to increase rates.”

He added that other coalition government initiatives like public service job losses, repealing fair pay agreements, and targeting free school lunches will be likely to increase hardship for many.

“With wages not increasing as much as they were, then that means less money in local businesses tills,” he said.

“The recent announcement of job losses in Wellington, met with glee by ministers, will have a massive impact locally – either to local commuters losing their jobs or on local tourism, hospitality and retail businesses, such is their reliance on visitors from Wellington.”

Butterick thought the key to making progress in the region is in supporting the economy.

“In the Wairarapa the success of our community rests in a large part on our economic success – when business does well there is a flow-on effect in jobs and support,” he said.

“Taking care of the agricultural sector, processors, and our many small businesses is a priority. Legislative change has already been underway with more signalled.”

Butterick said a lack of discretionary spending is seeing local businesses struggle.

“High insurance and loan payments are crippling farmers. This government will work hard to bring down inflation, lift business confidence, and support people into work. Lower inflation will reduce costs across all households.

“Locally that will see an impact, but it won’t happen overnight.”

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