Regional NZ Deserves More Economic Love!

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I’m tired of regional New Zealand being the country’s economic whipping-boy. Why must business in New Zealand still be SO main-centre focused??

With the rise of E-commerce and so much business now being internet-based, why does it still “need” to be based in the likes of Auckland?

It exacerbates Auckland’s never-ending high demand / high price problems which the nation is reminded of on a weekly basis in the news. While regional cities, like my own home town of Napier, have been struggling to attract skilled workers and businesses in recent years.

The regions have also had to bear the brunt of things like nation-wide “Loan to Value Ratios” (LVRs) which, while aimed at slowing the Auckland housing bubble, have instead quashed the dreams of many young first home buyers across the country, where housing prices are far more realistic.

So why aren’t places like Hawke’s Bay being given serious consideration?

• The average (full-sized, with a yard) house price in Hawke’s Bay is somewhere around $250,000 – $300,000 – a third to a quarter of those in Auckland.

• We have the infrastructure including UFB network access, to easily operate a national / international level “E-business” from Hawke’s Bay, as well as the port, airport and cenral location for easy logistical access.

• With its smaller population (more room, less congestion) and wonderful natural features encouraging healthier, outdoor pastimes, Hawke’s Bay has a relaxed lifestyle second to none!

Yet where is all the commercial and business development focus? After years of technological, social and commercial development 90% of it is STILL on fit-to-bursting, ridiculously-overpriced Auckland.

Like Smaug the Dragon, New Zealand’s dreaded old “Nothing south of the Bombay Hills” mentality is rearing its ugly head once again.

It doesn’t stop there though. For all the promise of call centre jobs being created in Hawke’s Bay, some of Australasia’s richest banking businesses must STILL outsource call centre jobs to India!

20 jobs that could have been based in provincial NZ, giving the local economy a boost are outsourced for “greater cost efficiency” at a company that pays its CEO more than anyone else in the country – THIS is the sort of corporate idiocy that is harming New Zealand!

If that isn’t bad enough, some companies that look to move to regional New Zealand want or expect subsidies for doing so!

Subsidies??!!

The real estate in Hawke’s Bay is around ONE QUARTER THE PRICE OF THAT IN AUCKLAND! By simply moving here, they could more than halve their operating costs – yet they want EXTRA money for it??!!

Give me a break!

While we move in almost completely different political modes of thinking, I saw the Taxpayer Union published a report recently called “Monopoly Money” on corporate welfare in New Zealand.

For a country where “Beneficiary Bashing” is practically a national sport amongst some sectors of the community, it would be a massively unfair of us to ignore the fact that many big New Zealand businesses with huge, healthy profits are also receiving government hand-outs, but on a far more massive scale than any DPB, or Unemployment Benefit recipient ever has.

Big businesses are essentially receiving a benefit to help cover the extra costs of operating in bigger cities like Auckland. While regional centres, lacking the presence of same big businesses, are in the economic doldrums with perfectly capable workers on unemployment benefits because the jobs just aren’t available.

But according to New Zealand’s very own Finance Minister, Bill English, that’s just fine.

When Mr English met Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce members at a swanky restaurant in Ahuriri last week he was quoted as saying Hawke’s Bay’s seasonal low-wage economy “isn’t going to change in a hurry, so let’s get good at it.”

What a pathetic cop-out!

Hawke’s Bay, and ALL regions of New Zealand deserve better!

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