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Nelson National Policy Campaign Launch 2017

Nick Smith, MP Nelson
5 September 2017, Northern Extension, Trafalgar Centre

Great to have so many of you here for our formal campaign launch. 

It is going to take a lot more than some rat poison and crass art to distract the Nelson National Party from our mission of making Nelson an even better place to live!

We are both locally and nationally in for the campaign of our lives.

  • A campaign for our values and our vision.
  • A campaign for keeping this great little country on track for growth and prosperity.

I must pay tribute to Gary Stocker and John Wares who lead our campaign and electorate teams.

I feel a bit like Aaron Smith in that last All Black game in Dunedin where he picked up the ball and is driven over the line by nearly a dozen black jerseys.

I’ve got loose forwards like Nan and Karen (I nearly called them hookers but they would not talk to me for a week).

I’ve got front row props like Mike and Owen.

I’ve got locks like Graham, Dan and Lester.

I’ve got this crafty little half back called George, and fresh talent like John and the young Nats.

And a back row of Elaine, Sarah-Jane, Jenny, Shelia, Robyn, Teresa and so on.

And then there’s our Jonah Lomu-like, Derek Nees, who is going to put the try down on E-Day.

It is an awesome team, and I have never been so well supported.

It is a real privilege for us to have Campaign Chair Steven Joyce, Party President Peter Goodfellow with us from Auckland and neighbouring MP Maureen Pugh from the Coast.

National, as Bill English said, is a team – a team of passionate New Zealanders who want the very best for our country and our future.

30 years ago Steven, fresh out of uni, started a new radio station in Taranaki. It grew to a nationwide network of 22 stations and 650 staff. That is the sort of real world business experience that we need at the helm of the New Zealand economy.

The bit I admire about Steven Joyce is his relentless focus on ensuring we grow the collective New Zealand cake.

Some people think the finance job is just about divvying up the cake – take a bit off here, give a bit more there. That is a zero sum game. The real gains for New Zealand are in baking a bigger cake.

Steven did a masterful job in showing what is possible in Budget 2017.

Some budgets boost family incomes, some budgets improve public services and some budgets focus on infrastructure investments.

Steven showed it is possibly with a strong economy to do all three.

I know Steven would want me to acknowledge the pivotal role Bill English has played in delivering these opportunities for New Zealand.

Bill is living proof of the saying that the tough get going when the going gets tough.

I love Bill’s gritty determination.

He got slammed dunked in election 2002, but has the courage and stamina to get back up off the floor, wiser and stronger.

When the GFC and the earthquakes hit, he has just put his head down and ground his way through the problems.

I even like the way Bill has reacted to the new Labour leader saying stronger competition is good because it makes us better

Tonight is the opportunity to put the case to Nelson voters as to why they should back National on September 23rd.

It has to start with the economy.

Nelson, to use an America’s Cup phrase, is foiling. The ASB Economic survey rated Nelson as the top performing region in the country and for the third quarter running. Tasman was No. 2.

New Zealand is one of the top performing countries in the OECD – so we are one of the top regions in one of the top countries. No wonder the world wants to come here.

On the economy the message is simple: Don’t mess with success.

Unemployment is at just 3% and employment at an all-time high. 

Building activity is up 60% on last year and at a record high.

Exports from our Port of Nelson are up 50% on five years ago topping $1200 million.

Tourism is booming with a record million people through Nelson Airport.

And here’s the bit Nelsonians need to understand about differing economic policies on offer this election.

We have the smallest state sector of any region in New Zealand through not having a big university, tertiary hospital, defence base or large Government department. 

Nelson thrives when Government policy supports enterprise and exports and that is Nationals brand.

This growth in Nelson as in other parts of New Zealand is putting pressure on our housing market and that is a relevant and important issue this election.

The principle solution is getting more houses built and on this we are making great progress locally. We have freed up 1700 sections in special housing areas, increased accommodation supplements by up to $100 a week, helped over 800 young families with Homestart into home ownership and partnered with the Salvation Army on providing emergency accommodation.

We’re also about improving public services.

We’ve lifted our District Health Board budget from $306million to over $418million. We’ve increased the pay of 1000 caregivers in Nelson by $100 per week to improve services for our aged and disabled. We started with providing free doctors’ visits to under 5s, extend it to under 14’s and in our next term will extend low cost visits to a further 12,000 low income Nelsonians. Today we also announced that we would expand elective surgery numbers nationally. We started at 118,000 a year, we are now doing 174,000 a year and today we have committed to 200,000 a year by 2021.

I have two important local health priorities that I want to get behind.

The first is our District Health Board plans for a major upgrade of our Nelson hospital. The buildings are not up to the high standards we have set for emergency buildings in an earthquake and the dated facilities will increasingly compromise the quality of care.

There is a big job ahead in working with our doctors, nurses and community on a complete redevelopment of the Nelson site. It needs to be on schedule for the early 20’s which means starting now.

A similar but equally important project is a new Nelson Hospice. 

The Hospice are an army of angels but they need a single site and a purpose built facility. I pledge my commitment to back the Trust and help them achieve this on the new site they have acquired in Stoke.

Education is amongst the most important of Government services for our community. 

We need to be continuously testing whether we are giving young people the skills they need for their future.

I am immensely proud of the Trades Academies we established across the region, that is providing real pathways into employment in our booming construction industry.

Minister Kaye has announced new initiatives of Digital Academies where we can sow the seeds for the talent to support the growing information technology sector. My commitment is to pull out all stops to secure such an academy for Nelson.

My other education priority is securing the site and getting a clear timetable set for the new school that will be needed for Richmond West.

We must never underestimate the importance of our fishing industry to Nelson’s economy and identity. 

That is why in this last term securing a new research facility at Port Nelson for Plant and Food was a key priority. 

That is why I back King Salmon in their endeavour to secure additional marine space for our growing aquaculture industry.

It is why I set up last year a new Trust to advance the idea of Fishing Museum and Marine Education Centre on our waterfront and continue to support them as they advance plans for the centre.

And it is also why I have worked with the Environment Ministry and Nelson Port Company on the $8 million clean-up of our beautiful haven from anti-fouling paints used in decades past, and want to see this project through to fruition.

You will also know of my passion to see our Nelson Cathedral earthquake strengthened. It is now New Zealand’s most visited Cathedral, and we must get this work done before it suffers the fate we saw in Christchurch. My task will be to help secure a grant from the recently established Government earthquake strengthening fund.

In Budget 2017, Steven Joyce said we are the infrastructure party.

Our infrastructure plans for Nelson will help define our future.

The first is in the area of telecommunications. The last term we’ve invested over $18million in the roll out of ultra fast broadband and we now have 20,000 homes and businesses connected. The next term will see another 10,000 including areas like Hope and Northern Nelson.

And we have announced new cell phone coverage in our area to cover black spots like Cable Bay, State Highway 6 across the Whangamoas and in key tourism spots like Nelson lakes, the Abel Tasman National Park, and Cape Farewell.

Water is a topical issue and there is no question we need to improve its management. The difference with National is that we have the courage to roll up our sleeves and advance the practical projects and policies that will make a positive difference.

The issue we have in the Waimea is typical of the national challenge. We extract too much water in summer for irrigating crops and for our town supplies for Nelson and Tasman. The low flows combined with nutrients cause algae blooms and poor ecological health.

We could solve the problem by halving the size of our horticultural industries and imposing tougher urban water use limits in summer, or we can build a dam to store the massive surplus flows in winter. Some people assume expanded irrigation means more nitrate pollution. Actually converting 2000 hectares of the Waimea Plains from dryland stock farming to irrigated crops like apples, kiwifruit, hops and grapes will reduce nitrate leaching.

Our Government is generously backing this scheme. We have a $7 million grant on the table through our Freshwater Improvement Fund, a further $10 million announced yesterday by way of an interest-free loan for environment flows and $25 million by way of a loan from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd – a total of $42 million.

This is an opportunity to lift minimum flows in the Waimea River by five-fold at the same time as we increase water supplies for our growing urban areas and horticultural industries. It is a no-brainer with real environmental and economic benefits.

The last project is the important Southern Link road. The commitment last week from Prime Minister Bill English and Transport Minister Simon Bridges for the up to $135 million to enable construction to begin in the next term of Parliament is the best news Nelson has had in decades.

This is about providing the arteries to support Nelson’s growth but also to provide the opportunity for our gorgeous waterfront to be developed into a world-class boulevard for walking and cycling.

Campaign 2017 has had more twists and turns than the Matai River.

We’ve raised the funds, we’ve knocked on doors, we’ve delivered tens of thousands pamphlets.

We are now in the home straight.

Let’s be clear about what is at stake.

September 23rd is not about the National Party.

It is not about winning a fourth term.

It is not about Bill, Steven or I.

It is all about what sort of future we want.

Not just for us but, more importantly, for the next generation.

Let’s secure our children’s future.

Let’s secure Nelson’s future.

Let’s secure New Zealand’s future.

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