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Improving connectivity and accessibility across our region significantly grows the economic and social opportunities available to us. It will mean more businesses, more jobs, stronger and more resilient communities, as well as safer and more efficient travel.

The National Party understands this and last Friday our Leader, Judith Collins, announced the most ambitious infrastructure plan ever seen in New Zealand. It is targeted to the upper North Island and is a visionary plan of work for the next 20 years, with $31b to be invested over the next 10 years in the first suite of projects. Totally aside from the massive end benefits, this pipeline will create thousands of jobs and give construction companies more certainty, providing a significant injection to the local economy throughout this process.

Businesses are regularly looking at cost-saving options, and for many of those based in cities, one of the largest costs is their lease. With the delivery of Fibre and Ultra-Fast Broadband, as well as the Waikato Expressway, these businesses can now realistically look at shifting from cities like Auckland, Hamilton or Tauranga, to towns, like those found in the Waikato Electorate, where they will have a lower cost of operating, but with similar access to the infrastructure they need for their businesses to succeed. On top of that, the cost of living is lower for their employees, too. The National Party firmly believes that the government should focus on providing the framework that enables businesses to thrive, then step back and let them get on with it. This is exactly why we developed and implemented initiatives like the fibre and expressway networks for this region. Communities across the Waikato Electorate stand to benefit significantly from this and I’m delighted to be part of a strong team that is focussed on delivering meaningful investment for our regions.

The transport portion of this plan will see the extension of the Waikato Expressway to Piarere, then on the foot of the Kaimai Range, before linking to Tauranga via a tunnel through the Kaimai Range. It will also include the Southern Links project at the south end of Hamilton. I have advocated strongly for a tunnel through the Kaimai Range because I know this will be a game-changer for the Waikato and I’m very pleased my National Party colleagues agree. It will reduce the travel time from the Waikato to the Bay of Plenty and drastically reduce the deaths or serious accidents on the road. I can’t wait to crack on with it!

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