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On the hustings in Gisborne with Winston Peters

NEW Zealand First supports reinstatement of the Gisborne to Napier rail line and state funding of regional airports such as Gisborne’s, said party leader Winston Peters when he was in Gisborne yesterday.

He told the Herald that Land Transport funding of Railways of National Importance, such as the Gisborne line, had long been party policy, but was disappointed that many Gisborne people would not know that.

“We will provide much-needed funding for regional airports owned by local authorities to help pay for infrastructure improvements and to meet safety and amenity standards,” he said.

“Unlike big airports they don’t have large revenues to help pay for the things they need. Every OECD country subsidises regional airports and air services, except New Zealand.

“Even the USA, home of the market, knows and does that. These countries know airports are crucial for communications, business development, air ambulances, and tourism, and must be supported by central government.”

Mr Peters said the sky around Gisborne was “darkening” because of the "old parties”.

“Politicians come here and say what they want to do for you. I’ve seen years of them doing stuff all for you. I see Gisborne and what it’s become.

“It still has the same people, resources and assets. It has everything, but it does not have the ear of Wellington.”

Mr Peters said nothing could be more compelling in his argument than closure of Gisborne’s rail line.

New Zealand First supported it from beginning“No one put their hand up to defend it other than one party: New Zealand First. Not now, not last month, not last year, but when it happened and since then.

“You give us a chance in this campaign, we are going to open it.”

He said no treasury analysis was required. No transport infrastructure was efficient everywhere. There could be both inefficient and efficient sectors, which together made a successful operation.

If inefficient areas were wound back, efficient areas were affected because overall numbers diminished.

He said regional airports were part of the national grid.

“If the United States and other OECD countries understand that, why not New Zealand?”

Mr Peters said other regional airports to benefit from the policy included Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Whangarei, Kaitaia, Chatham Islands, Hokitika, Masterton, Taupo, Timaru, Westport, Whakatane and Whanganui.

“Eleven airports are being told to put up or shut up. This is astonishing. Who do they think goes through Auckland Airport? A lot of them are going to places like Gisborne, they all add up.”

Public pronouncementsAt a public meeting at the Cosmopolitan Club Mr Peters said:

New Zealand First would ensure continuity of forestry supply for local processors, and keep forestry sustainable.The New Zealand Forestry Service would be reinstated. “This plan is so good the Labour Party swiped it a few days ago.”New Zealand First is committed to a massive campaign to seal rural roads, improve road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible. “We want Gisborne to have a fully co-ordinated transportation strategy with road, rail and coastal shipping.”New Zealand First would return the GST paid by international tourists in this region for tourism infrastructure and roads, and to stimulate job training and opportunities.Any water rights for exports in this region would pay serious royalties, which would return to Gisborne.New Zealand First will help exporters, farmers and others by fixing the Reserve Bank Act.Devaluation of the dollar would help export-orientated provinces like Gisborne.

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ON THE ATTACK: New Zealand First leader Winston Peters claims Gisborne does not have the ear of Wellington and “the old parties”. In Gisborne yesterday, Mr Peters said New Zealand First would provide financial support to regional airports, including Gisborne’s, and support reinstatement of the Gisborne to Napier rail line. Picture by Paul Rickard
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon.