There are many people in this electorate who will be relieved to hear that New Zealand’s primary sector remains an economic priority for this new National-led government. Just prior to the election John Key said that National will put aside money from the Future Investment Fund for irrigation and water storage development because well-designed water storage and irrigation is a win for the economy and for the environment.
Irrigation increases the productivity of our farm land, protects against droughts and takes the uncertainty out of water flows for farmers and recreational users. It also allows the more efficient use of water. Storage allows us to capture water at times of plenty, for efficient use at times of need.
I hope people will take heart from the fact that National is committed to increasing New Zealand’s economic potential while balancing our environmental responsibilities.
The election is over and National is back in the driver’s seat and able to move forward on its commitment to provide up to $400 million from the Future Investment Fund, confirming the funding for the second phase of our water priorities, to be called the Crown Water Investment Company. Mr Key has said that funding will be available from Budget 2013, and will carry on for the following four budgets.
The scheme will operate through the Crown being a minority partner, and investing with the expectation of a commercial return on that investment. The intention will be that the stake would be sold off over time. It would not be a grant scheme.
Because we are using the Future Investment Fund, which draws from proceeds of the mixed ownership model, we will not have to borrow more at a time when financial restraint is needed.
Government investment in large-scale irrigation schemes can deliver high quality projects sooner, and give confidence to capital markets to invest. This plan will be good for jobs, good for growth, and good for the economy.
On a lighter note I have been out and about at local A & P Shows and other events that signal the start of summer. These give me a great opportunity to meet people and discuss matters of importance to them in an informal setting. It has been a busy time with constituents and the media wanting answers to a diverse range of questions but it has also been particularly valuable. The questioning, the comments and concerns raised all contribute to my understanding of what this electorate needs as we move towards a new year and another term in government.