First Regional Partnership Plan Launch - Anderton
First Regional Partnership Plan Launch
Northland Regional Partnerships Programme
A'Fare Reception Lounge
Lower Dent Street
On the fourth of July last year I announced the launch of Industry New Zealand.
One of the aspects of the announcement was the launch of the regional partnerships programme. This programme is the first of its sort in this country for many, many years.
It has proved to be a vital tool in getting our regions working.
It was one of the first key announcements in starting up the Government's jobs machine.
Twelve months ago we called for expressions of interest for regional partnerships and by October we had 137 applications.
I said at the time I didn't think we had 137 regions.
And we don't.
For over 25 years governments have created competitive economic models that have stopped regions and groups working together.
In some regions not only were groups not working together, they weren't even speaking to each other!
This had to change.
Our experiences have shown that if New Zealanders couldn't work together we wouldn't work at all.
The Alliance published a summary of our key economic policies before the election in a booklet called "Partnerships 2000". This was where we first outlined the Regional Partnerships Programme, developed by talking to people in regions such as Northland.
Labour's policies were similar, and the new approach to getting our people and our regions working again was started with the signing of the coalition document 18 months ago in December 1999.
I have talked here in Northland before about strong super 12 regional economies being necessary to have a strong All Black national economy.
Northland has had some severe knocks. The decline in services such as banks, government department offices, schools, medical services etc has had a profound impact on all of you.
We have significant numbers of young people who have never worked. We have jobs we cannot fill and unemployed people without the skills to do these jobs. Paradoxically this is at a time when we have more training providers and universities than ever before.
We have had 28 consecutive years of balance of payments deficits.
Many key industries and businesses are owned overseas.
We have higher levels of poverty, gambling problems, alcohol and drug addiction and crime than at any time in our history.
The good news is that the economy in Northland is improving. This is happening for a number of reasons but one of them is that people in Northland are developing your obvious regional strengths.
Northland's traditionally strong agricultural base has been strengthened by several growth industries that contribute not only to the regional economy but to the national economy, including floriculture, forestry, aquaculture and maritime industries.
Northland has a number of competitive advantages including a favourable climate, a large land area and coastline and a strong cultural base.
Industry New Zealand's Regional Partnerships Programme allows up to $100,000 to develop a regional plan, $100,000 to develop a region's capabilities and then in the third stage up to $2 million to implement the region's plan.
Eighteen months on, 19 regions have been provided with funding from Industry New Zealand for the first two stages from Industry New Zealand, totalling $2.2 million.
Today I am pleased that only a year after the announcement of the Regional Partnerships Programme we are launching the first regional plan here in Northland - the first region to reach stage three.
This is particularly significant as Northland has born the brunt of regional decline more acutely than many other regions.
I congratulate all of you who have been involved in the development of this strategy which will guide you for the next decade.
Special thanks should go to the Strategy Steering Group, the Maori Task Group, the Mayoral Forum and the Think Tank participants for their input into the strategy development process.
This Northland effort is now a model for other regions in how to co-operate and develop region-wide thinking.
I applaud all of your efforts and your work in putting aside years of separate development.
The Northland Mayoral Forum was formed in 1999 and it has sponsored the development of the economic development strategy we are launching today.
This strategy has input from many people and groups in Northland.
Community surveys went to over 50,000 households in Northland. 1,800 community surveys and 667 business/organisation surveys were returned.
There were sixteen think tanks focussed on such diverse areas as creative industries, fishing and aquaculture. Education and training provided another avenue for input and discussion across a number of different groups.
I was particularly interested in the input from the Maori Task Group set up to provide a Maori perspective into the strategy.
In order to improve the economic status of this region, we must improve the economic status of Maori. One way we are looking to do this is to improve the standards of housing in the North - an initiative which is Hon Dover Samuels, MP for Te Tai Tokerau and I are helping to lead with our Labour and Alliance colleagues in Parliament.
Over the next two months Northlanders can comment further on their new regional plan.
I suspect that with the launch of this plan the work really starts.
It will not always be easy to forgo a project in your district for one of greater benefit to all of Northland but that is the nature of the compromises essential to having a plan for your whole region.
It is the sort of compromise that we have to make in Government everyday.
I know Northlanders are up to the challenge and you will do great things.
I want to finish by again committing Government to working with you. For 25 years the missing partner in assisting regions was central government. Now that you have a plan, and we have worked with you to develop it, we will continue to be there with you.
Dover Samuels, along with my own Alliance contacts here and advice from Industry New Zealand and the Ministry of Economic Development and other government agencies like Te Puni Kokiri are all keeping me advised of your progress.
We will continue to be partners with you and to stand with you as you implement your plans and fulfil your ambitions for Northland.
Congratulations to you all on this significant day.