Where to from here? - Jim Anderton Speech
Jim Anderton MP
Leader of the Progressive Coalition
Where to from here?
Wednesday, 17 July 2002
Speech to Pacific Business Trust Economic Symposium
What we do today creates the world of tomorrow.
That is my experience. It applies in both business and politics.
You’ll excuse me if I touch briefly on politics as we are now only ten days out from the election.
The policies in the lead up to the election will shape the New Zealand we build for tomorrow.
If there is anything that can slow our economic growth and shatter what has been built by the Clark/Anderton Government over the last three years it is a return to the policies of the past and the negativity they bring with them.
I have been stunned and embarrassed by the climate of fear that is driving the campaigning of Winston Peters, Richard Prebble and the Greens.
There are many reasons for their scare tactics.
Essentially they want to win votes and negative campaigning is the way they think they can make that happen.
Last election the issues that attracted votes and support were jobs, regional development, the economy, health and education.
This Coalition Government has addressed jobs, the economy and our regions and made progress in health and education.
However, the reason fear works is also a legacy of our recent past.
As our standard of living declined in comparative terms over the last 30 years, we ended up arguing over a share of declining resources.
Regions were in decline, businesses closed. We had increasing levels of unemployment and we spent more than we earn as a country for the last 30 years.
Some New Zealanders became understandably worried about not getting their fair share.
People who looked different were seen as a threat as some New Zealanders felt they were missing out.
Although these fears still linger they will inevitably decline as we build a stronger economic base.
The stronger our economy the less fear we will have in our society.
I believe the tactics being employed by ACT, NZ First and the Greens are only going to make the future more difficult for all of us.
I am on record as saying this is one of the most negative campaigns I can remember, certainly since 1981.
If these parties succeed in their aim then they could set back the gains of the last two and a half years and jeopardize our economic recovery and progress.
Past Governments made decisions and took steps assuming no matter what destruction they created that the future would somehow look after itself.
You could never run a business that way.
I used to have a manufacturing business with raw materials coming in one end of the factory and quality finished goods going out the other.
I know all of you in your businesses are aware they don’t run themselves,
There are daily challenges. Day to day issues which have to be attended to by someone in the company.
But the long term success of the company requires looking ahead and planning for progress.
secure are your suppliers? Have we got the skilled labour
What products are we selling? What demand will there be in the future? Where are the markets?
What are the strengths of our business?
Any good business asks these questions.
Any good country should do the same.
Over the last three years there has been a change in attitude.
This government has provided economic security and some certainty while the economy has steadily improved.
We have begun to build stronger links with our neighbours in the Pacific and in Asia.
The outlook in the 2002 Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update shows a robust economy with growth averaging around three per cent over the next four years, unemployment remaining low, employment increasing steadily and wages growing ahead of inflation.
The government has re-engaged in the economy as a partner.
Our regions are booming, all of them are in positive growth mode and many are growing at over four per cent per year.
We have created a new job every 12 and a half minutes over the last two years.
There are 104,000 more jobs in New Zealand now than there were three years ago.
Industries are working with the Coalition Government to remove barriers to growth.
There are 12 major industry strategies underway.
We need to develop what we have and build on what we are good at.
We all have a part to play.
During the last two and a half years I have been visiting businesses and regions.
I have travelled up and down New Zealand.
Wherever I go I find innovation and creativity in businesses and the economic base of New Zealand being broadened and deepened by high quality, added value manufacturing.
I believe one of New Zealand’s secret weapons is the talent and creativity of people who come from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, the Cook Islands and the other Pacific nations.
Your approach and outlooks are unlike anything in the rest of the world.
With immigrant palangi, the Tangata whenua, and Pacific peoples we have a national culture and an economy which is unique.
Pacific island people are starting to succeed, but, like us all, they can do better. If you begin to achieve greater success in your own businesses your communities and the whole of New Zealand will benefit.
The Progressive Coalition has a number of policies which recognise the Government can work as partners with you.
We will support further funding for relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs, to ease the transition to work by the provision of free English-language tuition for adults, technical training for employment and health care.
I am committed to developing training initiatives for Pacific community school leavers.
We have to support increasing the number of Pacific people’s teachers at all levels in the New Zealand education system.
I want to see greater transferability of qualifications and training acquired in the Pacific Islands.
Those of you who are good at running businesses have an important part to play.
Those of you here to learn about business leadership, information technology, sustainability, trade and other topics have a vital role in the economies of your people and of New Zealand.
We share a beautiful country with amazing natural resources.
However our greatest strength is our people.
I see a New Zealand that welcomes and accepts New Zealanders regardless of where their ancestors came from – mine came from Ireland.
At the regional development conference held last year in Rotorua, one Maori economic development expert described our regions as chapters in the book of New Zealand.
He said that you can’t understand New Zealand – you certainly won’t get the full story, until you read the whole book and understand every chapter.
I look forward to your new chapter in New Zealand’s story, your contribution to the development of your community and of New Zealand. I’m sure it will be an important building block to a better and more complete, New Zealand.