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Enterprise North Shore Albany office Opening

Hon Jim Anderton
Deputy Prime Minister

Opening of the Enterprise North Shore Albany office

Unit 3, 100 Bush Rd, Albany, North Shore City

4:00PM Wednesday, 9 February 2000

Mayor George Wood, Maurice Ellett, Vicki Neith, invited guests

Thank you for the opportunity to be here at the opening of the Albany office of Enterprise North Shore.

These are exciting times for organisations involved in the economic development of New Zealand.

This Government is committed to a partnership between central and local government and the private sector.

We need a new approach because New Zealand's economy is simply not performing for the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders.

Unemployment has remained far too high for far too long. There are more than two hundred thousand jobless in New Zealand.

Our overseas deficit is alarmingly high and appears to be growing. More than a quarter of a century has passed since New Zealand last earned more overseas than we spent in a year.

Since 1984, our income per person has fallen significantly compared to the average of other developed countries. We have been dropping behind.

There has been a sharp rise in inequality. 80% of New Zealanders are relatively worse off. About ten per cent are the same and the top ten per cent are much better off.

There has also been a sharp regional polarisation.

While some major urban areas have developed strongly - consequently putting pressure on infrastructure and resources, the majority of urban areas and regions have lost wealth and jobs.

Weak regions mean a weak economy. Other developed countries have come to recognise that lagging regions should not be seen as a drag on the economy, but as potential bases for future development - an opportunity to contribute to the overall performance of the national economy.

There is nothing inevitable about the decline. It didn't have to happen and it doesn't have to continue.

Governments have a key role in stimulating economic development.

The Government's role extends from the provision of basic services like health care and education, to investment in infrastructure, such as roads. It includes removing the blockages such as having virtually the entire telecommunications system in the hands of an overseas-owned monopoly.

It includes large-scale expenditure on science and technology, support for innovation and the development of new industries and new enterprises.

The main goals of economic development are:

TO INCREASE employment;

TO REDUCE our crippling and serious overseas deficit;

TO CLOSE the gaps - between rich and poor, between Maori and Pacific Islanders and the rest of New Zealand, between regional areas.

We need to do it by transforming the economic base of New Zealand. We're going to invest in job-rich, high-tech, high-skill, high-value new industries.

There is no shortage of good ideas in New Zealand. What we have lacked is a supportive Government and an economic development dimension to New Zealand's economic policy planning.

Mail is stacked up in my office from people who have suggestions for ideas that could contribute to this country's economic development.

Now, of course some of these ideas will not be runners. But what if some of them are? Some of them are sure to include ideas that could contribute very significantly to New Zealand's industrial and economic development.

We only need a few successes. Companies like Tait Electronics. CWF Hamilton.

People say that the possum industry is a hopeless cause. I invite them to visit Snowy Peak in Christchurch. That is a very successful high-tech business. Possums are an environmental pest. There are 70 million of them and we just kill them. But there could be an entire industry in processing possum carcasses and skins. It could earn us overseas revenue, create jobs and help to clean up the environment.

I remember when we were told that deer couldn't be used commercially. No one says that any more. But our experience with deer should encourage us in exploring the possum industry.

There is no such word as 'can't.' New Zealanders are innovative. I believe we have the most creative society in the world.

Our economic development programme is aimed at harnessing that creativity in the interest of lifting the well-being of New Zealanders.

We will get a lot wrong. If we don't get some things wrong, then it means we're not taking investment risks. The whole point is that we will have to take risks.

This morning I was speaking at the Trade Union Federation. One of the comments it made to me was: 'Already we have many great ideas from our affiliates as to how industry and jobs could be developed in their sectors. In most cases it only requires goodwill and commitment from the Government. It is not even a question of money.'

That comment is strikingly similar to literally hundreds of others that have been made to me since the new Government took office. Local government leaders, trade unions, community groups and businesses have all stressed that the main thing they are looking for is a supportive Government.

Right now I'm in the process of helping to set up the Government agencies that will be needed to change the future direction of the economy.

I'm hoping to have finished the design work this month and we'll be up and running within a few weeks, rather than months.

There is no single silver bullet. The Government will assist the development of new industries through a wide range of contributions.

These will include direct development grants, the provision of venture capital and loans. We will encourage research and development through much greater support for science and technology.

We want to provide better access to expert advice and professional expertise. Many potentially successful ventures fail for a lack of marketing, managerial or technical expertise.

Assistance could take the form of bringing together young apprentices or trainees with businesses offering the opportunity to harness their skills.

No one has a monopoly on the good ideas required to enhance New Zealand's economic development. In principle, anyone should have access to the regional development process. Individuals, trade unions, community groups, private companies Maori economic entities and local authorities can all play their part.

The form of co-operation will be tailored to the type of project and its circumstances.

Organisations like Enterprise North Shore have a fundamental role in the success of our policy.

Local initiatives aimed at boosting the performance of industries on the local, regional, national and international scene are not only welcome, they are vital.

Communities like yours have recognised that for a number of years now. That recognition is reflected in the support that your local council and other organisations have provided to Enterprise North Shore.

You can take encouragement from the fact that now, at long last, the Government of New Zealand is also committed to economic development and partnership with local initiatives.

In closing I would like to stress that communities must take a share of responsibility for the success of New Zealand's economic development. You can't sit back and say 'it's up to the Government now.' It is up to you to make a contribution through community organisations like this one.

I wish you well.

ENDS

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