This has been an unsettling time for us all as we work through the health threats that Covid-19 has presented to our country. By and large we should be proud of how we’ve responded to the health threat of Covid-19, now comes the need to have enduring policies to work through the economic threat that are before us.
Over the last few weeks my team and I have spoken with hundreds of constituents, businesspeople and community workers about the tremendous strain affecting everyone.
Despite the current situation, I believe the future is bright for New Zealand and for Taranaki as a region.
The challenge is not will we prosper on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis – we will. The challenge is to get to the other side through this valley of death experience many businesses are facing as their cash flows have evaporated through the lockdown. In that regard, I have been hoping the Government will bring a cash-flow injection package as other countries have done, to help businesses keep their head above water, until they can get back on their feet. Last Monday, Simon Bridges announced National’s proposed support package to businesses that will support cash flow during this time.
The fundamentals of Taranaki’s economy are positive. We export what people need – food, fuel, wood with a world class engineering sector to support both, along with other excellent service companies. We have a vibrant economy in the arts and hospitality, which will underpin the coming renaissance of domestic tourism throughout New Zealand. We have diligent and professional public servants. Taranaki is still a great place to live and work.
Taranaki’s relatively sparse population and consequent low impact of Covid-19, combined with the diversified strength of our economy, means we are safer than most, stronger than most, and more attractive than most. We need to leverage off these advantages.
Taranaki will continue to be a centre of excellence for the energy industry, built on the strong foundation the oil and gas sector has established with support of world class engineering companies. Taranaki will grow and diversify into other energy vectors; be that hydrogen or offshore wind, using the skill set and understanding built up over the past seven decades. OMV’s recent discovery off the South Taranaki coast means hydrocarbons will remain part of the mix, and that will require research and innovation as we remain on course towards a low emission future. Bans never enable R&D - they end it.
Our strong creative sector will also have an important part to play. I’ve initiated meetings with some of our best creatives, and from these discussions a plan for some very ambitious and exiting events towards the end of the year are underway, when hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate getting through. These initiatives along with our world-class existing events will attract visitors and enhance our reputation as a source of artistic excellence.
We ought to be confident of our future. We live in a unique and beautiful region, endowed richly with natural resources, populated by imaginative and innovative people. Where else would we rather be?
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