Time to take a risk for the regions – Newsroom column
To lay out an explanation for the recommendations in our Taking the Right Risks policy paper on regional development, Alex Penk and Julian Wood penned an opinion piece for Newsroom. Click the link to read it in full, highlights below.
Read Alex and Julian’s Newsroom column here:
Time to take a risk for the regions
“The regions may also struggle with larger economic forces. For example, as a small nation we don’t have much of a “home market” so we rely heavily on access to global markets which typically occurs through globally-linked “growth nodes” — read, urban centres with international airports and ports. Regional communities will need good transport links with these centres to take advantage of international opportunities. If they’re isolated and we can’t build the necessary roads and rail to link them in, these communities will struggle.”
“With these challenges looming, we welcome the Government’s intention to invest heavily in the regions, and its war chest of $3 billion, a.k.a. the Provincial Growth Fund, certainly holds out hope for those of us who live outside urban centres. But if that spending is going to live up to its promise, it needs to be done right.”
“At the moment, the Government’s Regional Growth Programme allows regional communities to identify their own economic priorities from the bottom up. However, the money from the Provincial Growth Fund, and other regional development funding sources, is still dispensed, top-down, by central Government. True multi-level governance that empowers communities will mean central government giving spending power to the regions.
“Auckland’s regional fuel tax is a good example of how this can work — a dedicated levy imposed by central government, but spent by local government in their region in accordance with their priorities. Imagine how this kind of significant, reliable revenue could empower other local communities to solve their own problems, for example, if the Government had chosen to return the revenue from its new petrol levies to the regions that it came from.”