'Neglect of regions'
The "cannibalised" south is preparing to tell the Government what they think of job losses and what many leaders south of the Waitaki see as neglect of the regions.
The leaders meet in Dunedin today in a summit called by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull who last week described the region as the "cannibalised south".
The last straw for the mayor was the Government's recent announcement that 85 jobs would go from the Invermay AgResearch centre over three years, and the meeting comes after a string of closures and job losses in the city following large-scale lay-offs by KiwiRail at Dunedin's Hillside engineering workshops in 2011.
Jobs have gone this year at New Zealand Post's Dunedin Mail Centre and the city council company Delta, with more set to go the Dunedin Hospital kitchen because the Ministry of Health wants to centralise services in Christchurch.
The Government's lone Dunedin MP, Michael Woodhouse, said he was coming under fire for a raft of Government decisions that were pulling public service jobs out of the Otago region.
''I'm getting some feedback from the public, which is not surprising," he said today.
"There's some disappointment in the agresearch decision. I think part of today will be about exactly whether or not that's in the best interests of the taxpayer."
Labour MP David Clark said the summit was meeting amid the worst unemployment since the tenure of former National Finance Minister Ruth Richardson.
"This is not unique to Dunedin but is really hitting Dunedin," he said.
"I hope we get a message across to the Government they can't ignore the regions.
"Unfortunately central government is not investing in the regions. Investment is a long way further north from here, mostly in the big cities. The regions are feeling neglected."
National Public Service Association organiser Barry Jones described the Invermay decision as part of a government slash and burn public service policy.
Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead saw the summit as a chance to bring the region together in a show of strength.
The summit is expected to produce a range of recommendations for the Government on how to reverse the region's decline.
- © Fairfax NZ News