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World Class New Zealanders - Anderton Speech

Hon Jim Anderton
30 May 2001 Speech Notes

World Class New Zealanders- Speech to Quality Conference

Wednesday 30 May 2001
Embargoed till 1:30 pm

"People, Processes and Performance Conference"
NZ Organisation for Quality and the NZ Quality Foundation
Christchurch Convention Centre
Christchurch

Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today at your conference on quality. I am pleased to be here.

Total Quality Management and other systems have had a high profile. There was a time when you couldn't pick up a business or airline magazine without finding an article on the issue. These articles seemed to often talk about creating and defining processes.

I know from my own experience as the CEO of an engineering firm and from my working experience, that quality assurance is an invaluable tool and uses processes to improve outcomes.

To my mind, and I hope this is not too far away from your professional understanding, quality processes are the way of generating the best result, with the minimum of waste and error.

I know we all seek quality outcomes. In my work, particularly that of economic, industry and regional development the difficulty is first defining the outcome, which is desired.

I am always pleased to return to Christchurch, as this is where I live and where my electorate is. One of the interesting things about this city is, as many of you will be aware, that locals ask each other whether they are born and bred Cantabrians, what school they went to and what suburb they live in.

I am informed once a Cantabrian always a Cantabrian, and that many return here to bring up their children because of the quality of life that this province offers.

I understand that in Canterbury the Sustainable Cities Trust has led a process with the City and Regional Councils to define quality indicators for measurement of the standard of living here.

The idea has been to work out what the most important indicators are and to work to improve them so that the quality of life will be better for all who live here.

I think this focus on making life better for the citizens of Canterbury is an excellent example of working to define and create quality.

In the invitation you sent to me to address for this conference you asked for comment:
„h on government policy for encouraging New Zealand Enterprises to improve their performance; and
„h initiatives to improve the workforce skill base and/ or business processes.

I want to talk briefly about both of these and then to talk about a budget initiative that I think has the potential to drastically improve the quality of New Zealand's economy.

This Labour Alliance Coalition Government has made many steps in helping businesses to improve their performance. We see business quality as vital and an essential part of business advisory.

Many of you will be aware of the BIZ programme.

BIZ offices are contracted by the government around the country to offer advice and support for businesses. In January of this year we announced the results of an evaluation of the programme. The results ran to seven volumes and told us everything you could possibly want to know about the programme. We talked to customers, providers, the public, and business leaders about BIZ.

At that time BIZ had helped over 31,000 people and 7,000 businesses.

This evaluation was the most comprehensive review ever carried out on a New Zealand industry assistance programme.

The information has proved to be extremely valuable in looking at ways we can tune the programme to better assist business to develop and create sustainable employment.

BIZ offers excellent workshops to small and medium enterprise companies based on the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Awards principles and criteria that many of you will be aware of. There have been 46 business excellence workshops throughout New Zealand with a combined total of 1,274 people attending these courses.

A key component of BIZ is helping companies to ensure they have quality systems which will lead to continuous improvement in the quality of performance for individual companies.

One of the advisers to BIZ is fond of quoting to his clients that quality systems don't always stop you making mistakes, but they do prevent you from repeating them.

My adage is you're allowed to make a mistake as long as it's not the same one!

I note that your conference theme also mentions people. The aim of BIZ is to give New Zealand business people the tools to have better businesses.

Quality is an idea built into Industry New Zealand's highly successful Enterprise Awards Scheme. The scheme offers grants of up to 50 per cent of defined costs to an entrepreneur or business that is starting up or growing. Businesses can apply for up to $20,000.

One of the categories that can be applied for is Business and Operational Excellence. This means a company or innovator can apply for half the costs of ISO certification, systems evaluation and development, or benchmarking among many other initiatives.

Skills development is another area where quality is important.

You may be aware that unemployment is at its lowest level in 13 years, at 5.4 per cent.

You may also be aware we have high unemployment in some areas and in the same regions we have skills shortages. In Tairawhiti, Northland and the central North IsIand we have a wall of wood descending on us as the forests mature yet we have a lack of forestry workers, not enough industry capacity for processing and an underdeveloped transport infrastructure.

The first step for me as the Minister of Industry and Regional Development was to create a process involving all the key players, industry, government and local authorities. From there we identified the issues and have established working groups with detailed plans on each issue. The overall group is assessing the progress of the working groups and setting the strategic direction.

As a result of this process there have been a number of important initiatives.

For example last week, I announced new skills training programmes for forestry work along with my colleagues Steve Maharey and Parekura Horomia.

The wood processing industry is involved in providing skills training, and also in defining what training is needed. Training will include basic literacy and numeracy skills as well as drug education, leading to more technical training to qualify workers to operate high tech forestry equipment.

We need to help our people improve the quality of their work. This training will do that.

I now want to turn my attention to an initiative that I think will improve our business culture and help to increase kiwi success and achievement.

Since the 1999 election we have been looking at ways to ensure that the talent and skills of New Zealanders are not lost to us. In some cases the best and the brightest have left, many, of course, to return later, but in the meantime we are not getting the advantages of their knowledge and experience.

In the Budget I was able to announce total funding for Vote Industry and Regional Development in 2001-02 is $96.183 million, up from $49.492 million in 2000-01.

Funding for these initiatives comes from the $331.875 million set aside by the Government over a four year period from our first budget last year.

There are programmes worth $34.352 million a year in new spending which will be directed to individuals, small businesses, high growth industries, local communities and entire regions.

For me the most exciting parts of the budget were those in the economic development area targeted at the diaspora, those New Zealanders who no longer live in their own country.

The key programme I announced is called "World Class New Zealanders", and is a 'brain gain' initiative designed to identify and network with New Zealanders who are world class thinkers.

This is a $2.250 million initiative aimed at lifting the level of business expertise in New Zealand, sharing innovative ideas and exposing New Zealanders to international best practice. It will expand the availability of world class technology and help to attract new investment to New Zealand.

I want to see more profile for role models and examples of kiwis as world leaders for our young people.

Real and virtual networks will use existing business connections and New Zealanders overseas to access international markets and promote New Zealand.

How is this going to work?

In the same way we have people who will always remain Cantabrians. I believe that New Zealanders, wherever they are in the world, are always New Zealanders. They retain a commitment to their homeland and identify themselves as New Zealanders.

We need to network and keep our people contributing. I can see New Zealand as a nation with, in at least one sense, no frontiers.

We can bring people back to temporarily work with local enterprises, link local business people with mentors using internet and satellite technology, develop think tanks with kiwis around the world and have scholarships and programmes to help New Zealanders to learn from our successful ex-patriates.

New Zealanders can be urged to send back good ideas of their successful ventures overseas and where possible connect opportunities arising from their businesses to New Zealand.

We could even establish a member of Parliament for ex patriate New Zealanders! I'm sure there would be a large number of nominations for that seat.

Again it is about people.

I see this initiative as giving people the advice, skills and confidence to achieve greater things and a high standard of excellence.

We need to make New Zealand the best country in the world.

We are designing processes to assist but at the end of the day we need our citizens to have the vision of a high quality society and how to make a contribution to bring that about.

In the next few months we will be identifying key kiwis across a range of disciplines, such as business, arts and science to see what we can do to tap into their knowledge and experience.

I believe that exposing this country to the success which our ex-patriates have created all over the world will have a beneficial effect on the quality of all that we do.

We can learn and aspire to achieve.

I started by saying I think that quality assurance is about processes to improve outcomes.

I believe that greater success for New Zealand in the global economy is already within our grasp. What we need to do is find ways to learn from both our successes and our failures while we engineer our way to success.

There is no shortage of good ideas in our community.

There is no shortage of commitment.

What we need is to develop processes and ways to achieve the quality result we desire more consistently.

That is a challenge we can all work for.

ends

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