Northland is often seen as a province with more than its share of negative social statistics. So the North received some very welcome news yesterday; Stuff reports:
Refining New Zealand shareholders have given the final green light to a $365 million upgrade of the country's only oil refinery.Until the annual general meeting in Whangarei this afternoon, the fate of the project was hanging in the balance.The board had already approved the decision in February, but the sheer size of the investment meant shareholders had the final say.There were concerns that some of the petrol giants who are the cornerstone shareholders would not support the proposal.But after auditor PwC completed the official vote count, the result was positive - 64.5 per cent in favour.The success of the resolution means construction of the Continuous Catalyst Regeneration (CCR) platformer, to be installed at Marsden Point, will kick off in 2014.Once up and running, the CCR investment is expected to boost operating earnings by $60m, and increase shareholder dividends by 30 per cent.The new platformer allows a wider range of crudes to be processed in a more efficient way, with energy-efficiency savings accounting for 70 per cent of the value.The project is also expected to boost the Northland economy through the creation of 300 new jobs, with twice as many other roles created in supporting industries nationwide.
This will be a terrific stimulus to Northland. It's an area of high unemployment, so any significant industrial development that provides job opportunities in both the construction phase and ongoing will be welcomed.
We have friends who do business in Whangarei. And one thing they are grateful for is the government's efforts to upgrade the highway between Auckland and their city. State Highway One north of Puhoi is not a great road, and desperately needs upgrading. Our friends tell us that there is much anger over the politicisation of their road and lifeline, and that Labour will never win an electorate in the north whilst it continues with patronising references to the Puhoi to Wellsford upgrade as the "Holiday Highway". For most Northland businesses, it is their key connector for getting goods in and out, and they hold the Labour and Green politicians who sneer in the utmost contempt.