Pre-election visit, and promises, roll into town
Bill English has not ruled out a highway between Hamilton and Tauranga to open up the eastern link in the golden triangle but said it was some time away.
The Finance Minister spoke at a public meeting in Cambridge with Social Welfare minister Paula Bennett.
The meeting was hosted by Waikato MP Lindsay Tisch, new Taranaki-King Country candidate Barbara Kuriger and Taupo MP Louise Upston.
Last month, Hamilton East MP David said a four-lane highway to Tauranga was the next major project that should be considered.
English said the national roads of significance programme would open up opportunities in the region and a new road to the east was on the cards but no details had been worked out yet.
"It has mentioned by some people," he said. "Now that people can see it is possible to get some of the programmes done even when times are tough, they are starting to think about where the next one should be."
About 160 people packed into the Cambridge Town Hall with some left standing in the doorway.
They heard the economy was going "reasonably well" with the primary sector, the Christchurch rebuild and housing the key drivers.
English said the roads of significance would open opportunities for business in the region and they were committed to the policy.
However, every dollar of petrol tax was allocated and a list of long-term projects was already in the pipeline.
"At the moment we are full-up with a big building programme in Christchurch, getting started with the long-term programme in Wellington, the Transmission Gully, Auckland with Waterview and the Waikato Expressway.
"As we get through that programme, though, we can start looking ahead to the mid 2020s."
A Hamilton to Tauranga route would have to be considered alongside the Puhoi to Wellsford road, a second Auckland Harbour crossing and further extensions to the Waikato Expressway.
Government's commitment to the plan would give business the confidence to invest in the regions.
He said the economy was slowly on the rise and expected the average wage to increase from $55,000 to $65,000 in the next 3 years.
Bennett said with the growing economy, fewer families were dependent on welfare and taxpayers' money was being spent directly on food and services.
Upston organised the meeting and said the two ministers gave Cambridge residents a clear view of what was spent and where the money was going.
"The turnout is a really good indicator that people want to hear exactly what is happening and what the plan is for the next few years if we are re-elected."