Budget 2016 boost for regional economies, infrastructure, social housing and biodiversity

LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule, acknowledged a much needed boost for communities in four key areas LGNZ has been advocating for: stronger regional economies, infrastructure, community and social housing, and biodiversity.

“Stronger, more successful regional economies and better community wellbeing are key areas of focus for LGNZ. We are pleased to see Government focus on these priority areas for communities,” says Mr Yule.

“$44 million over four years to assist regions to develop opportunities in their economic action plans is a useful start to investing in local economic initiatives, and consistent with what LGNZ has been asking for,” says Mr Yule.

In the Budget, Government also reiterated its commitment to $115 million to accelerate regionally significant roading in Gisborne, Marlborough and Taranaki.

“LGNZ is pleased to see Government’s commitment to regional roading projects. We look forward to seeing further investment in roading rolled out in other regions to support economic growth,” says Mr Yule.

The $100 million allocated to improve fresh water quality in rivers, lakes and aquifers as part of a partnership fund will also be a useful addition to current funding.

In addition to $200 million for more social housing places in Auckland, LGNZ is pleased to see $500,000 going to Christchurch City Council to support ‘home ownership services’, as well as $37.8 million for social housing fund available for third sector organisations.

“Like Government, local councils are focussed on ensuring that housing stock can be brought to the market in a timely manner to ease the pressure on housing affordability,” says Mr Yule.

The $16 million over four years to tackle wilding conifers comes at a critical time as LGNZ has lent its support to a national strategy to address the rapidly escalating threat of the species to both the environment and economy.

“This investment could save potential economic impact of an estimated $1.2 billion over 20 years if we can get this under control now.”

The new $12 million Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Fund, which was announced in advance of today’s Budget, was welcomed by LGNZ and will assist some smaller scale infrastructure projects like restrooms and car parks to deal with the growing number of tourists.

Mr Yule says, “Although this is a welcome boost, LGNZ will continue to advocate for more long-term and sustainable funding for tourism infrastructure.”

“In the future, it will be important that visitors pay their fair share of use of facilities provided by councils to support New Zealand’s successful tourism industry,” concluded Mr Yule.