from the Christchurch Press 19 May 2000

    Govt Aid Sought For Public Works Scheme For Jobless

    by Glen Scanlon

    New Zealand's mayors want the government to consider supporting a programme of public works to reduce unemployment to zero.

    Christchurch Mayor Garry seven other mayors met Employment Minister Steve Maharey and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton on Monday to talk jobs.

    They were speaking on behalf of an elected group called the Mayors' Taskforce for jobs.

    The group wants the Government to help rebuild the non-profit sector in communities, address Maori and Pacific Islander employment issues, and help retain young people in their communities.

    Mr Moore said that the ministers agreed that a memorandum of understanding should be written for the groups so that the government could show its commitment to a partnership with local bodies.

    Mr Moore said economic growth was fundamental for the future but it did not deliver jobs immediately.

    "There will have to be a public projects element in place, which will probably be local government projects."

    Mr Moore said examples in Christchurch would be getting people to work in the Halswell Quarry or recycling waste. He said unemployment was a big issue when 50,000 people were jobless in 1984, but the figure was now 200,000.

    Mr Moore said such works projects were "appropriate intervention". He said the ministers were as concerned about the problems as the mayors.

    Mr Moore said any proposal would not displace existing jobs.

    Task force spokeswoman Jan francis said the proposal would be about long-term solutions.

    Ms Francis said large areas around the country had not benefited from the hands-off policy over the last 15 years and some intervention was needed to help them in the future. She said conservation projects, reducing waste, beautification and technology projects were options being considered. The task force would put a proposal to the government soon and the mayors wanted some planning under way by the end of the year, she said.