How do we stem the West Coast’s population bleed? Let’s try another PGF transfusion

Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau, having dished out a few million dollars of our money in Hawke’s Bay, headed for the West Coast of the South Island.

His arrival there coincided with news that this  is the only part of the country where the population has declined, according to the latest census.

The New Zealand Herald, tapping into RNZ information, reported:

While regions such as Northland had rocketed ahead with 18 per cent growth in the five years to 2018, the coast’s population had slipped by 1.8 per cent, close to where it was 13 years ago.

The region’s flat-lining population was all the more worrying because of the fall in the number of children aged 15 or younger – down 9 per cent since 2013.

Hmm.  How can Tabuteau help?

 With more handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund, silly.  

He announced the PGF will help fund a new dredge for the Port of Greymouth to ensure the regional fishing fleet have a reliable and productive harbour.   

“Last year the movements of vessels in the lagoon were restricted to high tide as water levels were reduced to less than a metre in places whereby fishing boats need a depth of 3-4 metres at low tide to move freely,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

“The current state of the harbour threatens the viability of the high quantity of fishing fleet which can total up to 70 boats during peaking fishing seasons, and also the local processing plants that rely on a regular supply of fish.

“Without an affordable and permanent solution, the Port will have to continue to rent an expensive dredge that still means some parts of the lagoon would remain un-dredged, leading to the risk that commercial fishing vessels cease to operate there at all.”

The new dredge is expected to cost about $1 million, with $800,000 funding from the PGF, and the balance funded by the Greymouth District Council.

Tabuteau said it will ensure that productivity in the region does not decline and will support further growth opportunities.

While the Point of Order Trough Monitor was triggered by the announcement, it has yet to appear among the ministerial statements recorded on the Beehive website.


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