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Boat-building Assn AGM - Jim Anderton Speech

3 July 2001

Address to the Boating Industries Association of NZ
Ponsonby Cruising Club,
Westhaven Marina,

7.30PM Tuesday, 3 July 2001

One of the first calls I received after I became Minister for Economic Development came from a boat builder here in Auckland.

He had a problem -- which seems to be the common denominator among everyone who calls me.

He had a full order book and the opportunity to expand his business.

But he couldn't get enough trained staff.

He told me he was happy to have apprentices.

But there was a legacy of insufficient training in the industry, and not enough skilled staff were available immediately.

He wanted to know why the Government hadn't done anything.

And if the Government wasn't going to do anything, why shouldn't he take his business to Australia?

I told him that the main reason the Government hadn't done anything was that we had only been in office for about five minutes.

So we got to work with the Boating industry and developed a strategy to address skills shortages.

$200,000 has been made available from Industry New Zealand to assist:
- Boat building cross-over training courses are being developed and put in place.
- Industry qualifications are being improved.

They will help to train new workers – like the young Maori kids I met in Whangarei, who have found work on the New Zealand Yachts project.

This Government’s Modern Apprenticeship scheme is making high-skill job opportunities available for young people.

And it is providing a pool of skilled workers for the industry.

It’s an example of partnership between government and the private sector that would not have existed only eighteen months ago.

If someone from the boating industry had tried to ring the Deputy Prime Minister in the last government, they would have been told, ‘the Government doesn’t get involved in these things. Go away and fix it yourselves – don't ring us because we won't be ringing you.’

Another example of our willingness to help has been the decision to zero-rate for GST purposes goods and services supplied to foreign pleasure craft that are in New Zealand temporarily.

Our decision makes it more likely that New Zealand boat-builders will get work on the super-yachts that visit here for the America's Cup.

The change will help to make New Zealand an even more attractive destination for supplies of marine recreational equipment.

New Zealand needs this industry to succeed.

Boatbuilding is New Zealand's largest non-primary product based manufacturing industry.

It turns over about $600 million a year, and half of that is export income.

New Zealand simply doesn’t have enough exports of complex manufactured products that rely on the unique skills and talents of New Zealanders.

We are the lowest exporter of manufactured products in the OECD.

We simply haven’t been making enough of the high-value products that the rest of the world wants to buy.

As a result, we haven’t paid our way in the world for twenty-eight consecutive years.

Our average incomes have been falling behind those of other developed countries for thirty years.

We need to transform the industrial base of the economy.

When in Opposition I talked about partnership, I was demonised.
- NBR cartoon.
- Evening Post.

Now those ideas are mainstream.

New Zealand needs a partnership approach to developing high-skill, high-value new export industries.

Boatbuilding is one of the most promising and it is one of the fastest growing.

It has all of the elements of the industries that need to develop in New Zealand:
- It is a high-value, high skill industry.
- It is an export industry.
- It relies on uniquely New Zealand skills and talents.

Over a decade ago Michael Porter identified the industry as one with great potential for New Zealand.

He noted that New Zealand is already a world leader in many aspects of boating.

And he pointed out that our cultural fondness for water-based activities makes New Zealand a nursery for excellence.

But it needed leadership to commercialise that excellence in a way that delivered sustained economic development opportunities for New Zealand.

Professor Porter’s vision for New Zealand needs to become a reality.

There is no reason why we cannot become the world leader in almost every aspect of recreational marine equipment.

New Zealanders love the water.

Many maritime nations have proud traditions of setting to sea to earn a living.

We are one of them.

But more than most other countries, we not only work in the sea, we play in it.

Fishing, sailing, paddling, swimming diving.

It’s all part of growing up in New Zealand.

We came across the sea and we return to the sea.

Therefore it is natural that we have a heritage of leadership on the sea.

New Zealand’s trophy cabinet has been kept full for many years.

The America's Cup is the best known, though other successes have included the Admiral's Cup, the various ton cups over the years, Southern Cross Cup, Kenwood Cup, and Round-the-world races to name only a few.

Yacht designers like Bruce Farr, Laurie Davidson, Ron Holland, Jim Young, Greg Elliot, Alan Warwick, Paul Whiting – these are all names well known for excellence.

Some of these New Zealanders have displayed genius on the world stage.

Some went back across the sea to realise their potential, as so many New Zealanders do.

Our heritage of leadership on the water extends beyond yacht racing.

We have produced world class innovators and performers in all sorts of marine recreation.

Think of wind-surfing and you think of the Kendalls (Bruce and Barbara) and of Aaron Macintosh.

Canoeing, and you think of Ian Ferguson and Paul Thompson.

Think of fizz boats, and you think of the Hamilton Jet.

A few weeks ago, I visited Naiad Inflatables in Nelson.

Naiad manufacture rigid-hull inflatable craft and they currently have more orders than they can fill.

They have been innovative in their design, they are committed to high production standards and they have utilised the America’s Cup to raise the international profile of their craft.

At the other end of the scale New Zealand is becoming an international centre for excellence for the super yacht industry.

Firms like Sovereign Yachts and New Zealand Yachts are helping to develop New Zealand’s growing reputation for building and refitting large luxury craft.

I know that there has been some concern among some of you about what this means for you.

I want to assure you any assistance to any one boat building company will be available to everyone on the same basis.

I hope to see more enthusiasm for growing the industry in New Zealand as rapidly as possible.

Tourism operators in a town like Queenstown welcome – or even actively seek – the arrival of new tourism operators.

They don't see them as competitors or rivals, but as allies in building Queenstown as a destination.

All our industries need to ask, 'what is best for New Zealand? What will make my country stronger and more prosperous?'

One of the most exciting business development tools is cluster development.

Clusters are groups of businesses within a single industry that work together on common issues, benefiting from each other’s expertise, orders and successes.

There is work under way to develop a boat-building cluster in West Auckland.

There needs to be a commitment from all of us to as much success as possible for as many as possible.

The Government will play its part.

Helping to solve problems such as the shortage of skilled labour.

I invite you – if you have a problem restricting the growth of your industry, that only government can solve, then contact us.

Call Industry New Zealand or the Ministry of Economic Development, and if that doesn't work, call me.

New Zealanders are accustomed to complaining about the government, and that's not surprising in view of some of the things that governments have done to them in recent years.

But I believe that government can be a force for good, and that public service is an honourable profession.

Governments exist to help individuals to realise their possibilities, to unleash your potential, and to offer co-operation when working together instead of against each other will help us all.

New Zealanders are the most creative and innovative people in the world.

Yesterday I visited the set of Lord of the Rings.

It’s being filmed in a few anonymous buildings in Wellington.

I see a movie every week, and I am certain that Lord of the Rings is going to be an astonishing film.

It is ultra-high technology, with special effects the equal of anything that’s ever been done before.

And it’s all being done on kiwi ingenuity.

I met Peter Jackson and the Los Angeles movie moguls who are under-writing the film.

And they told me that Hollywood would not have been able to make a movie anything like the one Peter Jackson is making in Wellignton.

The production has a huge budget, yet Hollywood would never have been able to afford some of the effects Peter Jackson’s movie has developed.

There are more than 140 people in an old factory making the props and costumes.

Most of them have never worked on a feature film before.

They came from farms where they’re used to solving problems with pieces of number eight wire.

One of the Americans said to me, ‘The concept of impossible is unknown to New Zealanders.'

That is the spirit that makes me confident about the future.

We need to harness that creativity and unleash it in every industry, in as many firms and individuals as possible.

We need to show it on the world stage and succeed because of it.

I know this is one industry committed to doing that, and I pledge the partnership of the government to help you succeed in it.


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