A new business-led lobby group has joined the general election debate to ensure the voice of the Waikato is heard on the national political stage to drive change for the betterment of the region.
The group, Agenda Waikato - with the slogan Business Driving Waikato's Agenda - was formed last month as an incorporated society with a foundation board made up of prominent names in the business community and a key academic leader.
Board chairman is Graham Dwyer, businessman and former president of the Waikato Branch of New Zealand Property Council.
The group has organised what it describes as a "facilitated forum" at Mystery Creek on Monday to which would-be MPs representing all political parties fielding candidates in the Waikato region electorates have been invited.
"The purpose of this Waikato Election Forum is to find out what the MPs would do for the Waikato, be they in government or in opposition," says Mr Dwyer.
"We want to learn what they think are the region's opportunities and weaknesses, and to hear from the audience what they see as important for the region's future successes," he says.
Waikato's business community and other key stakeholders are being invited to the forum and anyone else is welcome, Mr Dwyer says. However pre-registration is required and registered guests may submit questions before the event.
When asked if that meant it was not a public event, Dwyer said pre-registration was required for catering purposes.
"It is an open forum. I would regard it as a public meeting. The media is welcome," he said.
The forum is a business-led initiative, in association with EMA Waikato and Waikato Chamber of Commerce.
"There is a need to strengthen Waikato's relationship with central government with common goals and vision. With our help, the business community will have more of a say and influence on various initiatives and plans for the region, Dwyer says.
"It is an opportunity not to be missed; this is the perfect time to hear what the MPs will do for the Waikato." Agenda Waikato says the region is fragmented when it comes to local and central government representation. That is apparent with various electorates comprising parts of the region.
For example, Cambridge falls in the Taupo electorate, while Raglan falls in the Taranaki/King Country.
The group is keen to provide a strong business voice to the Waikato Plan and its economic development arm, Waikato Means Business.
"These are both encouraging initiatives, yet as a group of business people that are passionate about the region, we feel we can help see some of the ideas come alive, and provide other business-led initiatives, with our skills and expertise and evidence-based research," Mr Dwyer says.
Other members of the Agenda Waikato board are: Mark McCabe, a partner in the accounting and consulting firm PwC Waikato; Richard Coventry, chief executive of the Perry Group; Richard Carver, Jennian Homes' national franchisor; Bob Weir, a founder of small business advisory company Pinpoint Business; Jon Calder, CEO of law firm, Tompkins Wake and Professor Alister Jones, a research professor and deputy vice-chancellor, of the University of Waikato.
"We live, work and play in the Waikato and want to see it reach its full potential. Instead of sitting back and only focusing on our own businesses, we are going the extra mile. Let's find out how our potential elected officials will work for the region's success as what they do will impact on us all whether we are into politics or not," Mr Dwyer says.
A background statement about the group says Agenda Waikato supports initiatives that strengthen the voice of the region on the political stage (both in public, in forums and by private influence) and that of potential business and investment opportunities as part of the sustainable growth of the region.
"It's important to see the Waikato getting its share of political influence, funding and attention that reflects its standing in New Zealand," it says.
The Waikato Election Forum 2017 on Monday September 4 from 3pm at Mystery Creek. Contact Tracey Plank at [email protected]
- Hamilton News
By Peter Tiffany
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