What gives?

In August 2023, Carrier's Corner4 MinutesBy Blake NobleSeptember 8, 2023

With the general election now less than 100 sleeps away, barely a day goes by when a significant political issue doesn’t rear its head.

The campaign feels like it is underway; the media jostling is ramping up and fences are adorned with pictures of local MPs. We need only turn on a radio or TV, visit a local school or hospital – or more likely, in our case, jump in a vehicle and hit a state highway – to feel bombarded by the voices of those in desperate need of more resources and funding.

Don’t for a second read this as me having a go at the government, far from it. I’m attempting to articulate that no matter our interests, the chances are we can find someone or something around us in desperate need of some love.

Infrastructure, more specifically roading, obviously tops (or is pretty close to topping) the to-do list. Each year, we witness a decline in road quality and repair, and we are currently navigating any number of workarounds in the aftermath of the catastrophic weather events earlier this year. In many places, the damage may never be remediated back to ‘normal’.

But how does one reconcile the need to maintain and develop the roading infrastructure with the crisis-level needs of health and education, the mile-wide gaps within law and order, the ability to safely and adequately care for our most vulnerable, and access to affordable housing?

Then there are the issues of immigration, vocational education and general workforce availability and readiness, and you have a pretty significant list of ‘portfolios’, with ministries and local body agencies all fighting for their share of the tax take.

Regardless of pledges and promises made, capital and resources are finite. There will simply never be enough to satisfy all. Critical decisions and plans are urgently needed; until direction exists, it is impossible to create the alignment needed to maximise our collective investment and ensure that money spent will produce the outcomes and impact we’re collectively after. The progress, or lack thereof, within Hawke’s Bay and its produce sector recovery, is a case in point; six months on, there isn’t an adequate plan and resource to support what is arguably one of the most critical export regions to the country. Surely, it’s an absolute no-brainer that we’d want to throw the kitchen sink at getting it back on its feet asap?

Exporting is a prime example of such a pathway and how things must align, from the wellbeing of the environment and waterways to support viable production and growth to the resource and skill available to develop and operate such enterprise, to the infrastructure (road, rail, port) needed to get the product out of the paddock or orchard and on a boat or plane bound for the land of foreign exchange.

Yep, I know the country isn’t a business, but there’s no shortage of parallels and, ultimately, it comes back to resources and outcomes – substitute what you will in terms of the resources we choose to apply and the outcomes we seek for the country.

The scale of our needs is immense in whichever direction you look. To use roading infrastructure as an example, the Auckland region alone has more than 1000km in need of repair or major remediation (the distance between Auckland and Christchurch). That’s just one region.

The decision is ultimately ours; what gets and what gives, and who and how we will hold those we voted for to account. Fingers crossed that we’re sitting here in 100 days celebrating a plan.