Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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My Account

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On housing, roads and trade

Regular readers of the Time-Age will know that I have been a staunch advocate of getting government housing back to Wairarapa, after it was all sold off in 1999.

Last Monday, the Minister of Housing Megan Woods came to Masterton to mark the opening of 21 new public homes. The Minister also confirmed that Kāinga Ora is working with a developer to build 11 homes in Featherston, in addition to another development of four homes in Greytown. Further afield in Tararua, Kāinga Ora is developing nine new homes in Woodville.

Given my strong involvement in getting these houses back, I think I should explain that I was not able to be at the opening last week because I had a family funeral on the same day. But there was a good report in this newspaper which I hope readers were able to enjoy, because it is very good news for our community.

Rebuilding the stock of government housing has been a priority for the Government. We have delivered an additional 13,305 public homes since 2017 and we’re on track to deliver 21,000 public and transitional homes by 2025.

Another area where the Government has been working hard is to rebuild our roading infrastructure.

I know the three roundabouts coming into Masterton from the south have caused disruption during their construction – which has not been helped by the terrible weather – but when they are completed, they will make a huge contribution to local infrastructure. They needed to be built, I delivered in getting the funding, and we’ll be better off with them than without them.

The last Government made a choice to focus on a limited number of big road projects, which they paid for by slashing the road maintenance budget. That created a long-term resilience problem, evidenced by the pothole explosion that this Government has had to fix following the terrible weather we have had this year. This robbing Peter to pay Paul approach can be seen with their proposed $500 million pothole repair fund, paid for by raiding the road safety budget – things like traffic police, road safety barriers, passing lanes and signage would be compromised.

By way of contrast, the Government in Budget 2023 established the $6 billion National Resilience Plan to support building infrastructure that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Just last week, the Government provided a further $567 million to Waka Kotahi from the fund for immediate works on state highways on top of the $525 million provided in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, of which $44.7 million is helping rebuild roads in Tararua.

The third area I want to highlight which has a direct impact on our region is the Government’s work on free trade.

Last month, the Government signed a free trade agreement with the European Union. It will increase our exports to the EU by up to $1.8 billion per year by 2035. Tariff savings on New Zealand exports are $100 million from day one of the agreement entering into force, the highest immediate tariff saving delivered by any New Zealand FTA. This comes on top of the FTA with the UK Government delivered in May this year.

Since 2017, the Government has made seven landmark trade agreements, either brand new FTAs as with the UK and EU or upgrades to existing FTAs, such as the China FTA improvement in 2021. Our focus has always been to help framers and producers get the best value possible for their products and the Government’s record on record on trade demonstrates this.

Please get in touch if I can be of assistance.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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