Oil royalties no answer to roading woes

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2014

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When Labour leader David Cunliffe was a youngster he thought driving over Mt Messenger was scary.

And while he admits the road was probably still difficult, he's not making any promises a Labour government would improve it.

Mr Cunliffe and Labour List MP Andrew Little were visiting businesses in the city yesterday.

Fixing the road wasn't as simple as bringing some of the royalties earned from the region's oil and gas industry back to Taranaki to cover the cost, Mr Cunliffe said.

"We are looking at the issue of whether royalties on petroleum ought to come in at a regional or national level, but it is complex one. Then there's another issue around how those proceeds can be built on for the future."

Roading priorities needed to be assessed on merits, he said.

"In reality it's a hard issue. The (National) government has poured so much into roads of national significance - it's just none of them are in Taranaki."

He was hearing from local government all around the country that infrastructure maintenance was not happening, he said.

A centralised model didn't suit the regions.

"What we want to do in each region is to see how we can help."

Labour would put in regional taskforces and have a development strategy in place for each sector to support businesses in providing good jobs, he said.

In New Plymouth Mr Cunliffe saw both the good and the bad on the job front.

He visited Fitzroy Yachts, where more than 100 workers will be laid off, and also manufacturer Howard Wright Ltd in Bell Block that is doing well.

"I've visited Fitzroy before and have always been impressed with the work and the scale of the boats that they build, so it's a great sadness seeing that plant close."

He asked questions about the redeployment of the yacht builder's workforce, he said.

"I was concerned over the potential loss of highly skilled workers to Australia and further afield. It's estimated 10 per cent of the workforce won't be re-employed in New Zealand."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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