Getting on the same page and comparing notes of how the region is responding to the Covid crisis was the main aim of a meeting of Waikato mayors, council executives, MPs, Iwi leaders and others yesterday.
The purpose of the teleconference was to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 and how Waikato’s politicians and their agencies can work with Central Government to kick start economic recovery after the lockdown.
Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson said work was underway to identify “shovel-ready” projects, worth over $10M, that would be ready to go within six months and that would contribute to substantial stimulus to the local economy and create jobs.
“After looking after the well-being of our people, and fulfilling our crucial civil defence duties, our attention turns to coordinating which major projects we can ‘hit go’ on to get our economy back on track. This is what private sector is looking for too, they want to see our pipeline of projects, so they can get prepared and buy the necessary equipment.”
Deputy Mayoral Forum Chair Hauraki Mayor Toby Adams said that with the halt on tourism, and the lockdown affecting so many workers and companies, the region will undoubtedly feel pain. He praised the government’s wage subsidy scheme: “the scheme has been fantastic and it’s been fast. It has given people confidence, which is what we need more of right now.”
Local Government Minister and Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta said Government had been agile and was looking after people by minimizing the economic impact of COVID-19.
“We are providing practical support to those who need it,” she said.
The Mayoral Forum discussions, which take place every Monday during the lockdown, provide a framework for forming a united and cohesive ‘Waikato’ approach, important in leveraging Central Government support for initiatives on behalf of the region.