Nelson Matters Column Tue 30 Jan 2018
I thank the Weekly for this new ‘Nelson Matters’ column. It’s an opportunity to champion Nelson’s cause. It will keep Nelson readers informed of what’s happening in Parliament affecting our community and future.
I’m optimistic about Nelson’s prospects in 2018. Our unemployment is down to just 2.2%. Our region has been ranked the top performing economy in NZ. Local exporting, tourism, building and retail activity is at record levels.
The Government books are in such good shape that family incomes get a boost on 1 April. The mix has been modified by the new Government from what National proposed in last year’s budget, but payments like Family Support and the Accommodation Supplement are still going up. It will directly help 20,000 households by up to $200 a week and put an extra $25 million into our local economy.
Nelson is hosting for the first time ever, all three of our leading national sports teams, the Black Caps, Silver Ferns and All Blacks. Our own teams like the Mako, Nelson United and Giants are looking hot.
We have six important regional projects coming to fruition this year. The Saxton Velodrome is opening in February, the Greenmeadows Centre in Stoke in March, the School of Music in April, the new Nelson Airport terminal in August and the new Nelson Hospice in October.
Environmental gains expected this year include the reintroduction of Takahe into the Kahurangi National Park and kaka and kiwi into the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary following hard won pest control programmes. These iconic birds have been absent from these areas for yonks and we should celebrate their return.
These positive developments for Nelson have each involved years of work, much of it voluntary, and we must thank the Councils and community leaders that are helping Nelson get ahead.
This optimism does not overlook some real issues facing our community. Growing traffic congestion and an increase in our road toll have to be addressed. Nelson and Tasman households and businesses contribute $100 million each year in petrol taxes and road user charges and we cannot let Government siphon these funds off for other transport projects in other regions. There is a housing shortage and we need to ensure new construction continues to grow. We need to address local problems of water supply and quality. We need to get underway planning work on a new Nelson Hospital that is seismically safer and strengthen our mental health services.
My ideas are in my annual speech to Nelson Rotary available at www.nick4nelson.nz.
I value any feedback.