The Labour/Greens/NZ First Government is raiding the regions to pay for pet projects in Auckland.
First came the announcement – out of the blue – that the Government would be pandering to the Greens and axing funding for irrigation projects. An absolute body-blow for our provinces. These projects are vital for not only dairy, but a wide range of land uses, especially horticulture. The Government aren’t going to honour commitments to industries that rely on these projects, or the farmers, growers and councils who have invested their own time and money to progress their local schemes for more than a decade. Where was the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities, Damien O’Connor, who just this summer declared six regions in drought? Nowhere to be seen, steamrolled by the Green Party agenda. He will forever be remembered as a weak Minister who failed to stand up for our primary industries and provincial New Zealand.
Next came the announcement of an increase in fuel taxes by up to 12 cents per litre that will hit the average punter in the pocket to the tune of $10-$15 each time they fill up the tank. The Government Policy Statement on Land Transport also showed the Government planned to cut about $5 billion from regional State Highway projects during the next decade, all while increasing funding for new urban rail projects by $5 billion. Yes, you read that right. Regional New Zealanders are being told to suck up a big increase in fuel taxes, coupled with a big decrease in regional highway investment, all to help pay for new trams in Auckland.
Then last, but not least, came the announcement that the Government would be banning the exploration of offshore oil and natural gas. This move has put thousands of jobs at risk, brought any new investment in the sector to a grinding halt and prematurely ruled out a huge export opportunity for NZ – Liquefied Natural Gas. The world’s population is well on its way to nine billion – and global energy needs are growing. It’s simply not good enough to leave this untapped potential wealth underground, ruling out even exploring to see what is out there, while the rest of the world reap the benefits. Let’s not forget we also need to feed those nine billion mouths – a feat I don’t see us achieving without nitrogen fertiliser produced with natural gas.