Countdown to Budget 2018
Time for Govt to make good on regional promises
Today is D-Day.
At 2pm, Finance Minister Grant Robertson will deliver his first Budget – the first Labour-led Budget for a decade.
While there’s a budget every year, this one is effectively a financial blueprint for this government’s entire first term.
No pressure then.
It means the talking must be backed up with cash. Money must be put up.
If Wairarapa misses out, then it will be another long year before we get another look.
For months, we have been hearing about how much regional New Zealand means to this government.
Press releases have been sent, speeches have been made, promises promised – Mr Robertson has even come here and pressed the flesh.
That’s great, but so far Northland and Gisborne seem to be making all the headlines, garnering funds.
In Wairarapa, we face several issues that need government attention, issues that have been left untouched by previous governments, and that have been shown to be too hard or too expensive to be addressed or fixed by our local and regional councils.
We’re being held back in our development.
The Times-Age has raised these issues over and over again, but little has been done aside from vague commitments to ‘look into it’ from those who have the power and money to do something about it.
People are homeless, perhaps not living on the street, but having to share cramped rental properties with school-aged children – children who will suffer even more this winter if something isn’t done soon.
That’s not good enough.
Our social housing provider is crying out for central government investment, from a government that has no plans to reinstate a Housing NZ presence in our region after National sold off its entire stock to Trust House in the 1990s.
Our rail service is in a shambles – just ask any commuter unlucky enough to have to use it on a daily basis.
Its continued under-investment means tens of millions of dollars are needed just to get the track back to where it should be.
That’s not good enough either.
Water is a hot topic given plans to cut access to the river at times of low flow.
This government has made it clear that it doesn’t like large-scale irrigation schemes, but it has signalled it could support water storage.
If that’s the case, stump up the cash to pay for ours.
And as for our crowded classrooms and underfunded district health board, well, we all know they could do with a boost.
Wairarapa is just one of many regions around the country in need of investment.
It’s true that some of the others have more pressing needs than our own.
But we’re not asking for more than our fair share, we just want what our region needs to cure some of our most pressing ills, and to allow us to fulfil our potential.
So, Mr Robertson, Wairarapa will be eagerly watching your Budget announcement today.
It’s time to show us the money.