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“The establishment of a National Infrastructure Unit (NIU) is good news for farmers if it can facilitate key infrastructure projects in rural New Zealand,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.
“Allowing rural New Zealand the infrastructure to create more wealth for themselves and the country should be a key priority for the NIU as it formulates and monitors the 20-year National Infrastructure Plan.
“Federated Farmers believes the Government and NIU can boost the economy by investing in rural infrastructure such as water storage, roading improvements and rural broadband.
“This has been demonstrated in a study conducted by the Ministry of Economic Development into the Opuha Dam near Fairlie in South Canterbury. This found that for each 1000ha irrigated, some $7.7 million was injected into the local community, 30 jobs were created and household incomes were boosted by $1.2million.
“The NIU should also consider improvements to local roads and state highways and encourage projects that help retain skills within rural areas while stimulating rural productivity and efficiency. This has to be good for us all.
“Further, given that many parts of rural New Zealand rely on dial up internet speeds from the 1990s, it is essential that the NIU is committed to investing in rural broadband to reduce the technological isolation of rural New Zealand.
“Trade is not a one-way street and so rural New Zealand needs all the tools society demands in the 21st Century. After all, the primary sector, the basis of our economy, makes up 64 per cent of all New Zealand exports and deserves infrastructure rollout priority,” Mr Nicolson concluded.