OPINION: The recent leadership contest has energised support for Labour, writes Clare Curran (Labour) in From the Beehive.
If the election were held now, David Cunliffe could form a coalition government and become prime minister. Yes, the polls will bounce around, but it's becoming increasingly clear that National has lost its way.
It is not working in the interests of all New Zealanders. It has passed the GCSB laws and continues pushing the sale of state-Lowned energy companies despite majority opposition. A recent DigiPoll survey showed that more people felt the Government was not moving in the right direction.
Labour is on the way in, with a strong shadow cabinet and talented politicians working on policies to be revealed after our annual conference early next month.
As a country, we need to look at economic growth. We need a long- term plan for the future. What chance is there of strong, consistent growth in our regions, though, without commitment from central government to commit resources to stimulate and give incentives to the parts of New Zealand outside the three main centres?
The South Island needs particular attention. Southland has some advantages, with global food prices, especially in the dairy sector, shooting upwards. The $30 million rescue deal from the Government for the Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter kept 3000 jobs in place for now. Unfortunately, these are only short-term guarantees and these jobs still have a question mark hanging over them.
Tourism, especially an expected rise in tourists from China, is another boost, especially for the Queenstown-Lakes and Te Anau- Milford regions. But is it enough?
The recent scares in milkpowder contamination and manuka honey quality are signs that we need to reinforce our research and development capacity. We need a strong base and a partnership with science.
The proposed restructuring of AgResearch would see the Invermay Research Centre in Mosgiel gutted. Farming in New Zealand has been led by its partnership with science. If we are to sustain our "premier position" in food production, we must reinvest in the research required to maximise the commercial potential of the rural sector. We need to "future-proof"our farm systems. We need to recruit talented young scientists into agri-science.
Any government worth its salt should act in the interests of all its citizens, across all its communities. Let's not allow the South Island to be mucked about any further.
» Clare Curran is the MP for Dunedin South.
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