Timaru's recent upsurge of growth has come at the expense of other regions and will be short-lived, NZ First leader Winston Peters believes.
Peters, speaking at a Grey Power meeting in Timaru yesterday, told an audience of about 100 people that gross domestic product growth in Timaru was being driven primarily by the social services sector. He believed the high exchange rate was hindering export industries.
Peters said jobs created by Holcim's expansion at Timaru's port had come at the expense of concrete industry jobs on the West Coast.
He was critical of immigrants being able to claim New Zealand superannuation after 10 years of residency, with an audience member crying "boot them out" in support.
He also criticised the Conservative Party and the National Party, which he said were "awash with banking and immigrant money".
Audience members quizzed Peters on health services, juvenile delinquency, the re-introduction of compulsory military training, contemporary society's godlessness and the removal of GST on council rates.
First-time Labour Party Rangitata candidate Steve Gibson was in the audience, and said he had "come to learn from the guru".
"The primary reason I'm here is to listen and learn from someone who's got a lot more experience than me," he said.
Peters is entering his 14th election campaign, and said he recalled sleeping on the floor in Timaru before knocking on doors in Washdyke during previous campaigns.
"It's not easy to campaign in winter, but we've got a motivated team."
Peters said NZ First was yet to select a candidate for the Rangitata seat. It did not stand a candidate in the electorate in 2011.
- The Timaru Herald