Number of new jobs questioned

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 07:23 20/09/2012
Douglas Fairgray
Douglas Fairgray

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NZ King Salmon's proposal to set up nine new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds would create some jobs, but how many and whether it would increase the number of people employed in the region was disputed at a hearing in Blenheim yesterday.

The Environmental Protection Authority's board of inquiry is hearing an application by King Salmon to set up nine new salmon farms, eight in a part of the Marlborough Sounds where Marlborough District Council has prohibited marine farming. The hearing began three weeks ago and is expected to run till mid-October.

Yesterday, company economics adviser Douglas Fairgray and council economics adviser Tim Hazledine were questioned on the assessments they made in analysis presented to the board as part of King Salmon and the council's evidence.

Dr Fairgray confirmed he had revised down his initial estimate of extra jobs from the new farms after being supplied with new information from King Salmon.

He told board member Mark Farnsworth that there was a "very strong focusing effect at the last minute".

He said that while he estimated there would be fewer new jobs created, there would still be more than there were now - the base was zero.

There would be more in Marlborough if a processing plant was built in Picton, as had been suggested was possible.

Council lawyer James Lupton asked Dr Fairgray if he understood there was no guarantee a processing plant would be built in Marlborough. King Salmon was not applying for consent to build one as part of the application under consideration.

Dr Fairgray said the application was for a coastal plan change, and nothing to do with a processing plant in Picton.

"An economic assessment has to take at face value what seems like a reasonable proposal in the future."

Sounds resident Carney Soderberg queried Dr Fairgray about potential automation on salmon farms.

He argued technology available overseas would reduce the number of people King Salmon employed on its farms in the future, affecting how much benefit there would be to Marlborough from the application.

Dr Fairgray said that was not his area.

Professor Hazledine said the proposed farms would provide new jobs in the top of the South Island, and there would be a subsequent "juicing up" of the regional economy flowing from those extra workers' spending, but that would be a small number and it would not reduce unemployment.

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"There is a pool of unemployed in this region.

"But employers tend in this situation to like to look for people who are already in jobs."

- The Marlborough Express

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