Candidate aspirations for Invercargill

Last updated 11:42 04/09/2014

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What are the issues facing Invercargill? Cassandra Pokoney spoke with voters about what they want and with the candidates about what they hope to deliver.

Job security, industry support, education, and health - these are the issues the Invercargill electorate has identified clearly as being among the most important.

An informal survey conducted around the Invercargill CBD by The Southland Times last week suggests most people in the electorate want the same things - jobs and financial security for their families, strong education options, and a robust regional economy.

While most spoken to said they were reasonably happy with the state of the region's economy, the question of diversification was repeatedly raised - constituents want development of other industries to supplement the economic input of dairying.

The recent financial difficulties at the Tiwai aluminium smelter was repeatedly cited as an example of why the region needed to stop "putting all it's eggs in one basket".

Support for families also came up regularly, as did the age-old topics of healthcare and education.

Working on ways to keep young people in the south, while still developing career prospects was also highly valued.

But do these wants of the electorate match what the candidates are offering?

Let's take a look.

SARAH DOWIE, NATIONAL

Diversification of the regional economy and doing more to help middle New Zealand are among the main campaign focuses for Dowie.

Southland was a resource rich province but needed to expand and she wanted to be the conduit between the electorate and central government to help remove any roadblocks stopping that expansion, she said.

The province also had a relatively high youth unemployment rate and she was keen to work with the likes of Venture Southland to tackle that issue, and she also wanted to do more to support middle New Zealand, who were often not earning enough to be benefit from any tax breaks but not vulnerable enough to qualify for government assistance, she said.

LESLEY SOPER, LABOUR

Families, education, health and housing - these are the four priorities for Soper and issues she is keen to address if she wins.

She is also passionate about the party's policy on regional development and would work with that to help Invercargill and Southland build businesses and broaden career options.

She also believes diversification of the regional economy was key to helping Invercargill and Southland grow and prosper and would work to ensure other opportunities were looked into.

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"There's no reason that IT jobs couldn't exist in Invercargill; there's no reason we can't look at development of a silica industry in the South."

DAVE KENNEDY, GREENS

Kennedy's catchcry this election is "fairer, smarter, cleaner".

A fairer society, smarter economy and cleaner environment.

While it is the national Green Party mantra, it fit well with what he was seeing in Invercargill, he said.

People had become increasingly aware of environmental issues facing the region, for example, problems caused by the intensification of land use were "becoming more and more obvious", he said.

Issues of social justice, including child poverty, were also important, and education was the key to working towards solving those issues, he said.

STEPHNIE de RUYTER, DEMOCRATS FOR SOCIAL CREDIT

Regional development is the big issue facing Invercargill and Southland but within that are a raft of other issues which need to be addressed, de Ruyter says.

She wants to bring in cheaper power by investigating micro and domestic generation options, wants to source more affordable options for first home buyers, and address concerns held by Invercargill's ageing population over the provision of an adequate health structure to support them.

She also wants to keep young people in the south and to reverse the centralisation of services which has occurred during the past few years.

"I would like Invercargill to be a place young people want to move to and settle and that means they need better career prospects." Laura Storr - Conservative Party Did not respond by deadline.

Ria Bond - NZ First Could not be reached for comment.

- The Southland Times

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