The National Government needs to explain why our region is not seeing a fair return on its taxpayer investment.
Recent cuts at Invermay will have a chilling effect on the local economy as investors in research partnerships and plant, eye the dead-end ahead. Skilled researchers will look for opportunities abroad and agriculturally-based or interested businesses will reconsider whether Otago is for them.
Nearly 10% of New Zealand’s economic output comes from South of Christchurch, with a corresponding burden of tax sent North to Wellington.
But the benefits due Dunedin taxpayers are not flowing back from Wellington. Government and State Owned agencies have made deliberate decisions to make cuts at each of Hillside, Department of Conservation, CYF, Fisheries, Immigration, Housing, IRD, Police and New Zealand Post. How could this be seen as anything but a deliberate and cynical programme of service-removal from Dunedin?
Investment in infrastructure was one response to the Global Financial Crisis, but none was brought forward in the South. Further North taxpayers have received funding for roads of so-called national significance, schools, hospitals and the like.
The Government is treating the region with contempt. The shifting of CRI funding away from Invermay is at best neglect of Otago and at worst deliberate policy to further downgrade services in the South. It is a sad irony that it follows so hot on the heels of Government messages about the importance of support for skills and economic development outside the big cities.
Many deliberate choices this Government has made have been bad for Dunedin.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve written a fair bit on the topic [May 2012]. National have treated the regions as a cost [October 2012] and refused to consider the opportunities presented by exploiting their under-utilised infrastructure. Like others, I’m angry at National’s disdain for Dunedin [Jan 2013].