This year’s budget will deliver rural communities more funding for cyclone relief, electric vehicle chargers, fixed roads, and upgraded schools.
Minister for Rural Communities and Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty announced last Thursday that the budget would deliver a $60.7 million “top-up” of funding for emergency repairs to the transport networks to ensure that rural communities are less likely to be isolated after an extreme weather event.
“Rural communities are at risk from being severely impacted by extreme weather events; it’s so crucial that emergency services have road access through to remote communities.”
McAnulty said the financial support that the government has provided to Waka Kotahi NZTA]so far has meant that in the last year teams of roading contractors have been able to repair critical roads in areas including Wairarapa and Tararua.
“The additional funding for emergency works announced today will ensure that Waka Kotahi can continue to respond rapidly to extreme weather and repair the roads for rural communities as quickly as possible.”
McAnulty said rural schools would also receive a $63.1m boost, with 175 schools added to the Ngā Iti Kahurangi programme, which upgrades small, isolated schools’ properties.
Tinui farmer Alan Emmerson said he thought the budget was “responsible” for an election year, with “no great largesse aimed at buying votes”.
He said he was pleased with the cyclone recovery package and satisfied with the infrastructure fund.
“For too long, we’ve ignored the issues of our ageing infrastructure, and the problem won’t go away.”
Emmerson said he supports the rural schools and roading package.
“I’m relaxed about our level of debt as it is extremely low when compared with the OECD average.”