New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says Southlanders are being taken for granted and deserve better.
Mr Peters and his team were in Gore on Sunday evening as part of his 2017 election campaign tour.
Mr Peters said Southlanders were responsible for more than 18% of New Zealand’s exports and getting very little in return.
“You have the most wonderful scenery and that tourism mecca, Queenstown, is a part of your region,” he said.
He thought Southlanders were being taken advantage of.
“You are 3% of our country, but yet you make up 18% of our exports and what do we get? Why isn’t that reflected here?
“You bring hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy each year and you know what they gave you back?
“I’m sad to say it, but the local people here are being taken for granted.”
Mr Peters made several promises, including safe, affordable housing, access to First World health care, viewing education as an investment not just a cost, maintaining control of New Zealand’s assets and First World jobs and wages.
He soon shifted focus to the National Government’s actions over the past year, in particular regarding MP Todd Barclay’s secret recording of his electoral agent Glenys Dickson’s conversation.
“I’m not here to bag Todd Barclay – I think he’s suffered enough. He is a young guy who was badly advised .. really badly advised.
“I’m not going to bag a poor guy who’s suffering from nappy rash,” Mr Peters said.
“But when was the defamation lawyer hired?
“They weren’t because it was all true!
“Police need to explain why they didn’t do their job for a start .. Why is there one law for the National Party and one for everybody else?
“[Prime Minister] Bill English should resign as well,” he said.
Gore woman Yvonne Parks said she thoroughly enjoyed Mr Peters’ speech.
“I went and introduced myself too. He was really nice,” she said.
“It helped me understand politics a bit better,” she said.