Government has no advice on moving state services to regions

Winston Peters negotiated hard for regional policies.
Winston Peters negotiated hard for regional policies. Photo credit: Getty

Wheels are not yet in motion to implement a key coalition policy - moving government functions to the regions. 

The New Zealand First policy was adopted and written into its coalition agreement with Labour. 

But Newshub can reveal that the Minister responsible has received absolutely no advice on the matter. 

"I have received no advice regarding relocation [of] government functions into the regions," said State Services Minister Chris Hipkins. 

Newshub requested a copy of any and all advice, briefings and reports produced or received by the State Services Minister or his office on the matter, but it was refused.  

"The document alleged to contain the information requested does not exist," was the response.

The policy, launched by Winston Peters in 2016, was intended to share economic growth across the country. 

"The regions need jobs to boost their economies," he said at the time. "Service industries and shops will flourish with more residents spending their money locally. 

"Currently we have a country with the majority of jobs concentrated in overloaded cities. There is no reason in this age of advanced technology that Government office jobs cannot be in smaller cities and towns."

He argued that politicians should not rely solely on the private sector to prop up regional New Zealand and it would provide benefits to those working in the public sector too. 

"They will all benefit from much cheaper real estate - many Kiwi civil servants will be able to achieve the Kiwi dream of owning their own home."

The major regional development policy win from New Zealand First during coalition negotiations was the $1 billion Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund, which the Government is set to formally launch on Friday in Gisborne.