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Anderton Speech Importance Of Economic Development

2 April 2002 Speech Notes

The Importance Of Economic Development

Address to Rotary Club of Lincoln

6:30PM Tuesday, 2 April 2002

Lincoln Club, Edward Street, Lincoln


You have asked me to speak about the importance of economic development for New Zealand.

This must be an important subject, because news media have been clamouring for my speech notes all day.

The main reason, in truth, is that they are expecting me to make an announcement about whether I will be available stand with the Alliance party at the next election.

I’m not going to make that announcement here.

But the issue is topical in a speech about the importance of economic development.

It’s topical because the success of this Government’s economic development policies is one of the major reasons behind the conflict that has beset my party.

Economic development used to be extremely important to many in the Alliance.

The policies that I believe the Alliance was always most closely associated with were full employment, and strong vibrant communities where services like hospitals and banks are not threatened by a spiralling cycle of decline.

Employment is crucial to a person’s dignity and to the cohesion of our society.

Jobs are crucial to offering young people hope, and to keeping our best and brightest in New Zealand.

If we halved the rate of unemployment, I am sure we would reduce that rate of sickness, housing problems, and poverty.

If you halved the rate of unemployment overnight, the crime rate would drop by half.

Intelligent economic development policies are the key to job-rich economic growth.

That is why the Alliance always made economic development policies a high priority, because of the importance of these issues

But ever since this Government began implementing the policies to realise our vision, some of my opponents in the Alliance have lost interest in issues like jobs, and essential social services.

I launched the Alliance economic development policy shortly before the 1999 election.

It was called Partnership 2000, and it was billed as our flagship policy.

The principle behind the policy is that the Government should be a partner for industry, communities and regions.

The old ‘hands off’ era was over.

No longer would the Government sit on the sidelines as a cheerleader.

Things had to change because New Zealand was falling behind other countries that we like to compare ourselves with.

We have been falling behind for at least three decades.

We have spent overseas more than we have earned for almost thirty consecutive years.

We have the lowest proportion of complex manufactured exports in the developed world.

We can and must do better – at a local, regional and national level.

Without strong regional economies, we can’t have the strong national economy we need to support the high quality social services like health and education that we want and need.

If we wanted more good jobs, rising incomes and strong vibrant regions, then we needed to change.

The Government’s industry and regional development policies are all about creating strong and sustainable regions and industries that generate jobs and opportunities and meet the economic, social and environmental needs of New Zealanders.

Helping one region or industry does not mean ignoring another.

If we build stronger regions and industries the overall economy is stronger: A win/win not a win/lose scenario

There is a lot of misunderstanding as to what economic development actually is.

Economic development is not about “picking winners.”

It is about getting into areas where government can make a significant difference in improving growth.

It is not about throwing money at the problem.

While some sort of financial support may be required in some cases, in other cases the Labour-Alliance Coalition Government may provide other forms of support such as advice, information, expertise and co-ordination.

For many years Government has been the missing link in economic development.

Two new organisations have been created.

The Ministry of Economic Development formulates policies that promote sustainable economic development.

Industry New Zealand carries out these policies, working in partnership with local government, iwi, economic development agencies and community and business groups.

The budget is not huge: $330 million over four years.

That is less than Matt Robson has to spend on new prisons.

It is less than the $1600 million a year that Scotland spends on industry and regional development initiatives.

The goals of economic development are to develop internationally competitive, job-rich, high-tech, high-value, high-skill, high-growth industries.

We are not abandoning primary production.

Anyone associated with the Lincoln community is aware of the level of innovation, skill and creativity associated with primary industries in New Zealand.

But we need to recognise that the price we can achieve for commodity exports is slowly falling.

To restore the standard of living we used to enjoy, we must produce more products and services that depend on the skill, creativity and imagination of New Zealanders, and not just on our sunshine, rainfall and clean soil.

Economic development is about creating strong and sustainable regions and industries, higher incomes and more jobs.

It is vitally important in restoring New Zealand’s prosperity to the level we demand and can achieve.

Ends

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