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Jones: Shane Jones Says English Should Look At Call For Wider Central-local Government Partnership

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Shane Jones
Shane Jones

28 January 2009 - Labour local government spokesperson Shane Jones says the Government should investigate the call by former Papakura Mayor John Robertson to set up a Crown fund to stimulate local government infrastructure projects during the economic downturn.

"What John is saying may well make sense, but Infrastructure Minister Bill English needs to consider the call urgently. Local authorities are currently considering their 10-year-plans, and, given the economic situation, many of them will be putting off infrastructure projects so that they can keep rate increases right down."

Shane Jones says Mr Robertson, also formerly chair of both Infrastructure Auckland and the Auckland Mayoral Forum, and currently business faculty dean at the Manukau Institute of Technology, has suggested a $1 billion Crown funding envelope that can provide 33 percent grants toward local government transport or other infrastructure projects.

"John's proposal may well make sense on a number of levels, provided the right criteria can be developed. Obviously it would be a benefit if local projects, such as arterial or rural roads and sewer and stormwater systems, don't become victims of the global economic downturn," Shane Jones said.

"As John says, such projects often serve the national interest as well as local interest, but it will be perfectly understandable if local councils are tempted, out of sensitivity to ratepayers, to shelve them until economic prospects improve. Doing that, however, has the potential to drag both the national and local economies down, and that is why Bill English needs to look at John's ideas seriously." Shane Jones, who attended today's Maori jobs summit, said one aspect of John Robertson's proposal that could be particularly beneficial was the likelihood that smaller "local" projects would generate employment right around the country. "Labour's plans for a job-rich one billion dollar programme to retrofit cold and damp houses with insulation would also have generated jobs around the country, but sadly the Government has ditched that opportunity.

"We need to stimulate activity in all our regions. If the Government is serious about investing in critical and urgent infrastructure, it needs to be helping out in Southland, Taranaki, the West Coast and the Far North as well as the most populous centres."

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