Labour promises Otago upgrades

Last updated 13:27 21/08/2014
Fairfax NZ
DAVID CUNLIFFE: Labour leader.

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Labour would invest $250 million into upgrading Dunedin Hospital in its first term and reopen Hillside Workshop as part of its "Dunedin Plan".

Leader David Cunliffe made the announcement to a packed public meeting at Otago University.

The money for the hospital upgrade would come from the existing health budget and the "billion dollar per year allowance that Labour has established to tackle cost pressures and improve services in health and education", Cunliffe said.

"Labour will also reverse years of neglect by the National Government which has allowed the Dunedin Hospital deteriorate to such an extent that operations have had to be cancelled," he said.

The party would create 3000 more jobs in Otago by the end of 2017, largely through economic upgrades for forestry, manufacturing, fisheries, information technology and small businesses.

"And local projects, such as reopening and upgrading parts of the Hillside workshop, will be able to access funding through our $200 million Regional Development Fund, aimed at supporting local projects which provide an economic step-change for their regions," Cunliffe said.

About 90 people lost their jobs in 2012 after KiwiRail decided to sell the workshop and source its new trains from China.

The announcement drew roars from the crowd of mostly Labour supporters, along with a few workers who lost their jobs in the Hillside sale.

Cunliffe said Dunedin would also become a "knowledge and innovation centre" under a Labour Government.

"Nowhere has the National Government's short-sightedness been more apparent than in its decision to gut Invermay," Cunliffe said.

"AgResearch's facility provides an invaluable contribution to the productivity of our livestock farmers.

"Labour will keep Invermay open as a fully functioning agricultural science research centre. We will continue to back Invermay both as a productivity driver for our agricultural sector and the heart of cutting-edge science in Otago."

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