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The Public Empire Strikes Back - Deputy PM

Hon Jim Anderton
Deputy Prime Minister

The Public Empire Strikes Back

Speech Notes 6th March 2000

Launch of Public Trust 'Your Word is Law' campaign

Thank you for the opportunity to be here at the launch of the new Public Trust campaign, 'Your word is law.'

There has been something of a history of Ministers in charge of the Public Trust thinking that they don't have much to do in the portfolio. It's been seen as one that runs itself.

It won't come as surprise to many that I take a more proactive interest in my responsibilities.

When I was first briefed about the upcoming launch of this campaign, I was very enthusiastic.

Public Trust as an organisation embodies the values this Government is committed to. Those values are summed up in the two words 'public' and 'trust'.

The 'public' element means that it doesn't exist just because someone wants to make a profit. There is nothing wrong with making a profit, and Public Trust has been quite successful at it for more than a century. But it exists first and foremost, because it is there to serve.

The public it serves is as diverse as New Zealand. From orphans whose estates need to be administered in a way that is absolutely beyond reproach, to some quite wealthy families whose needs are sophisticated.

In every case the priority is to serve the public.

The other element is the element of 'trust.' At the risk of sounding pious, trust is another value that has been eroded heavily over the last fifteen years or more.

Politicians have been as guilty as anyone of failing to honour the trust of the public.

It's hardly surprising that as a value in itself, trust has been eroded in the corporate and community spheres as well.

I want to stress that this Government is committed to restoring values like trust, honour and integrity into public life.

The combined values of service to the public and the principle of trust have combined to build a marketing campaign that I believe will be very strong for Public Trust.

The organisation is assertively marketing its unique blend of services.

Public Trust provides financial services, trustee services and a range of legal services.

In some areas it is competing with very large corporations. And it is not only competing - it is doing better than they are.

Last week I announced the formation of the Ministry of Economic Development and Industry New Zealand. I made the comment that the 'era of hands-off is over.'

Today's launch of a high-profile marketing campaign by a leading edge publicly-owned organisation marks the end of another era: The era of privatisation is over.

We are entering a new era of public enterprise.

The public empire is striking back.

The time is gone when the Government is going to sit back and run publicly-owned companies into the ground so that they can be closed or sold.

Robust publicly-owned companies bring a high standard of integrity to their operations

Public trust is proof that public enterprise can be successful. Public companies will always have a strong market position because their customers are their owners. Customers know that that organisation exists for them, and them alone.

The idea behind the slogan 'Your word is law' is that customers will get what they want because Public Trust has a responsibility directly to them. Its first obligation is not to a shareholder, but to the public. And there are values of trust and integrity that it can never abandon.

In that sense, the values underlying the new Public Trust campaign are values that the entire Government should adopt. I am very pleased to lend my support to this launch.

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