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Wanganui-Rangitikei-Ruapehu Regional Development

Hon Jim Anderton
25 October 2002 Speech Notes

Wanganui-Rangitikei-Ruapehu Regional Development Plan

11:00 am
25 October 2002
Launch of Wanganui-Rangitikei-Ruapehu Regional Development Plan
Taumarunui Hall

Mayors Sue Morris, Chas Poynter and Bob Buchanan, partners in the Wanganui-Rangitikei-Ruapehu region, guests

Recently I have been reflecting that this is the best time for a young person to be leaving school in New Zealand since the early 1970s.

Young people leaving school have options that kids in the late 70s, 80s and 90s never had.

Already we have the lowest unemployment in 15 years at 5.1 per cent. All our regions are in positive growth mode.

The challenge for regions is to ensure that our kids have the choice to stay in their regional communities and take up skilled employment opportunities if they want to.

As part of our planning for the future we need to ensure that there are opportunities to train and employ all our young people in the industries in which we need them.

Workers are already a scarce resource, but it’s like a kindergarten picnic compared to what it is going to be like in 20 years.

In the next five to ten years 75 million workers are going to leave the OECD workforce.

They will be replaced by only 5 million entrants to the workforce.

In the years following the average age of the workforce will continue to climb.

The maths are compelling. There will be a serious world wide shortage of skilled workers.

People who speak English are likely to have an advantage in OECD countries and New Zealand young people, well educated, hard working and innovative will be highly sought after.

With an ageing population young workers are going to be able to choose where they live, where they work, and probably how much they should be paid.

If we want to keep our economy moving and not lose the best and the brightest of our young talent we need to start creating opportunities now.

One important issue in the equation is that in 50 years time up to half New Zealand’s population will have Maori or Pacific island origins. Current birth rate trends already ensure this is what will happen.

Without Maori and pacific island economic development there will be no satisfactory New Zealand economic development.

The New Zealand of tomorrow looks more like the All Blacks than the Pakeha dominated New Zealand Cabinet. (This is probably very good news).

It means though, that as we look to the future and create training and job opportunities, we need to be very aware that our Maori and pacific Island youth are an important part of our future.

Today your regions are putting in place the plan which will create these opportunities.

The agreement to be signed by the three Councils and 12 Iwi, commits to making regional development a shared priority.

You will be supporting business and creating jobs.

The aim of the five year plan is to encourage sustainable economic development that will yield tangible benefits in the form of –

- Increased business growth
- Increased employment opportunities
- Improved household incomes
- Increased investment

Your plan has identified regional opportunities for growth in –

- The improved utilisation of land
- Manufacturing, processing and in the businesses servicing them
- International and domestic tourism

These are great things to celebrate.

I am pleased that I am here to represent the Labour Progressive Government. It is two years since the launch of Industry New Zealand.

The creation of Industry New Zealand was a part of the Government’s determination to be a partner in the development of New Zealand’s businesses and regions.

What is now clear is that we cannot let training and regional development look after themselves.

The philosophy of the 80s and 90s was convenient in that the answer to most economic problems was to do nothing.

We did nothing so well that New Zealand had an appalling economic track record while many countries we like to compare ourselves with, grew and prospered.

Today the Government recognises we have to be involved as partners with industries and regions.

Industries and regions recognise that they have to work together to create the best conditions for businesses to flourish.

It is hard work, but if we do not roll our sleeves up and get involved then our future is bleak.

The Labour Progressive Government has committed to returning New Zealand’s GDP per capita to the top half of the OECD and maintain it there.

And there are signs that we are on track.

A couple of weeks ago the New Zealand Herald ran a story about a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report under the headline “Survey reveals economy at full steam.”

It started with the very technical description of an upturn in growth; it read –“ the economy is going like the clappers…..”

It went on to say that our economy is running into “capacity constraints”

The report from the NZIER talks positively of GDP increases higher than the annual four percent the Labour Progressive Government has targeted for sustained economic growth.

I don’t believe, however, the economy is at full steam.

It is growing, and “like the clappers” is as good a description as any.

GDP in the June quarter was 1.7% - giving an annual rate of 3.7 percent growth for the year (which was well above the expectations of most commentators).

The latest (October) ANZ Bank jobs survey show a 1.1% increase in September on top of an 1.7% increase in August.

The latest (August), National Bank survey of business confidence showed an improvement after 5 months of mounting concern.

Consumer confidence remains high.

And the manufacturing, retail and service sectors are all reported as being more willing to invest and to hire more staff.

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 Wanganui Mayor Chas Poynter for his work in nuturing the consultation and development processes. Thanks too to all participants including the 12 iwi and 3 District Councils for their input into the strategy development process.

I applaud all of your efforts and your work in putting aside years of separate, competitive development.

The Government is here to support you in your endeavours. If we do not hang together we will hang separately.

Congratulations to you all on this significant day.

This is only the start, but I am impressed with the progress you have already made.


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