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New Zealanders want to change gear

Media release 4 February 2002

New Zealanders want to change gear

Research shows New Zealanders want to change gear, says Business NZ.

Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says a recent UMR Research survey [1] shows New Zealanders understand that that growing the economy is the best way to deliver more jobs and better health care, education and other social services.

The survey measured New Zealanders' attitudes towards economic transformation and the knowledge economy.

The survey shows an overwhelming number (83%) prefer growing the economy to higher tax (10%) or more borrowing (5%).

"Only 21% think the economy is performing well enough to deliver enough good jobs and quality health, education and other social services. And only 27% think NZ is doing enough to develop a more innovative economy," Mr Carlaw said.

"These results indicate that there would be substantial support for policies that would deliver a stronger, growing economy.

"Business NZ has therefore developed 'Twenty priorities for growth' [2] - a set of priorities for such an economy," Mr Carlaw said.

"We will be testing political parties' election policies against these priorities and informing the public of the results during this election year. New Zealanders have shown they want to move up a gear. Over the course of this year we will see which parties respond," Mr Carlaw said.

Contact Simon Carlaw 04 4966555 or 021 484831, or for more information Kathryn Asare 04 4966556 or 021 555744.

Business NZ's twenty priorities for growth

All New Zealanders want higher incomes, better social services, and a clean environment. But we won't achieve these without a vibrant, growing economy. We need a balanced set of policies that will promote our international competitiveness, foster innovation and encourage entrepreneurs to do great things for New Zealand. While by no means an exhaustive list, we believe that the implementation of the package of key priorities listed below would go a long way to delivering a better New Zealand for us all:

1. Make a plan to achieve social well being and effective environmental management based on economic growth, innovation and competitiveness.

2. Lower tax rates, with a priority of getting the corporate rate to 20% by 2010.

3. Get government spending into proportion with the economy as a whole; get government spending below 30% of GDP by 2005.

4. Reduce the level of gross Crown debt to below 15% of GDP by 2010.

5. Consider a common currency with Australia or the US.

6. Cut business compliance costs by improving business regulation, especially relating to tax and the Resource Management Act.

7. Cut local government spending to less than 3% of GDP by 2005.

8. Improve transport infrastructure, especially where road constraints are holding back development.

9. Improve broadband internet access - get NZ into the OECD top 10 for broadband penetration by 2005.

10. Get free trade agreements with as many countries as possible; aim for a free trade agreement with the US by 2005.

11. Get better links between research and commercial application and increase the amount of private sector funded R&D to 1.5% of GDP by 2010.

12. Make sure our laws don't hold back innovation or the use of new technology; start by fixing the HSNO Act.

13. Increase workforce skills by getting more people into industry training. Aim to increase the numbers of people involved in formal industry training to 160,000 per year by 2005.

14. Improve workplace literacy; currently 20% of the NZ workforce can't read well enough to hold down a job - get that down to 5% by 2010.

15. Improve workforce literacy and numeracy by ensuring all school-leavers achieve at least NCEA Level 1 (includes literacy and numeracy standards).

16. Get more on-the-job learning, more business-school partnerships and better quality assurance of education institutions.

17. Aim for fewer strikes and stoppages; promote labour market flexibility and employment agreements that are focused on the individual enterprise.

18. Get more young workers to balance our aging population by increasing the number of 'young adult' skilled immigrants so the ratio of working age to retired age population returns to 1990 levels by 2010.

19. Give the business sector benchmarks to help them be competitive with those in other countries, using 'best practice' indicators.

20. Help more New Zealanders become entrepreneurs by promoting positive attitudes towards wealth creation and business success.

[1] Survey conducted by UMR Research on behalf of Business NZ, Knowledge Wave Trust, and Science & Innovation Advisory Council. This was a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 750 New Zealanders aged 18 years and over conducted 6-10 December 2001. See:

[2] Refer to attached list of Business New Zealand's key policy priorities.

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