The first priority of the next government is to agree to a joint national strategy to lift the economic cloud hovering over provincial New Zealand, according to Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule.
Speaking last night in Wellington at a LGNZ major issues seminar, Yule said the aim of local government was to foster economic growth in "all of New Zealand - our cities, regions and provincial New Zealand".
"What is clear is that, in the medium term, there are clouds over the future of provincial New Zealand. Jobs and essential services will be stretched. And population changes will add financial pressures on local governments.
"This is at odds with what our provinces contribute to the national economy. And so it's absolutely vital we find a solution to this conundrum, which I know is concerning the Government as much as us here in LGNZ."
Yule said a shared approach to solving this issue would ensure the "maintenance of the infrastructure that supports the economic engine of New Zealand" so there is sufficient investment to sustain and grow the provinces.
He called for a "strategic, legislative and regulatory environment that enables councils to lead, and fulfil their statutory responsibilities and meet the expectations of their communities, efficiently and effectively".
"We want to work with the incoming government as partners to put it into place. It would involve working with the government on clear priorities and a shared strategy. We see the future of provincial New Zealand as a top priority for LGNZ over the next three years."
- The Dominion Post