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Anderton Speech to MED's Southern Business Centre

Anderton Speech to MED's Southern Business Centre Christchurch

Geoff Dangerfield CEO MED Neville Harris Operations Branch MED Liz McPherson General Manager Ministry of Consumer Affairs Andrew Bridgman Group Manager Insolvency and Trustee Service

Today is an important day for the Ministry of Economic Development.

The creation of the new Ministry was announced on 29 February 2000.

In the short time MED has been in existence I have been impressed with how it has got on with the important issues relating to Economic Development helping industries, regions and businesses.

By way of contrast, there’s an unconfirmed story from the United Kingdom about the junior adviser in the Leeds regional office of the British Ministry of Transport. The adviser wrote a paper making some recommendations about the width of carriageway markings which were wider in Yorkshire than in the rest of the United Kingdom.

The paper went to his supervisor who made some changes and passed it to the Section Leader who also made changes.

From there it went to the Branch head, the regional Deputy Manager, another adviser and then the Regional Manager before going to London where the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the regions made his amendments and then passed it on to an the Assistant Secretary for Transport, who passed it on until it arrived on the desk of the permanent secretary for transport who reported to the minister.

By the time the paper reached the minister’s desk it had been amended by 17 Government officials.

All 17 had made changes.

The final report that arrived on the Minister’s desk, so the story goes, had been amended back to being word for word the same paper the junior adviser had written in the first place.

Which was that there should be no changes to the current policy.

Of course Government in the United Kingdom is on a much larger scale. But a new Government there faces a daunting task in implementing new policies.

Here in New Zealand we are luckier.

When this Government was first elected in 1999 we brought a mandate to re-engage with regions, industries and businesses.

The policy required the creation of the Ministry of Economic, Industry and Regional Development from the Ministry of Commerce and the formation of Industry New Zealand.

In three short years the Ministry and Industry New Zealand have made a significant impact on New Zealand.

The policies of the new Government have been made operational.

However there is much still to do.

In a few weeks the Ministry of Economic Development will release the Business Practices Study “Firm Foundations”.

This provides further insights into the dynamics of small business and the strategic decisions they make.

It also helps government to better understand how to work in partnership with businesses to help them succeed.

One clear message is that businesses want the smallest possible number of access points for Government services.

Bringing the Ministry’s business services together under one roof in the form of the Southern Business Centre is one way of adjusting how we work to help business.

This centre means businesses can access the services of the Companies Office, the New Zealand Insolvency and Trustee Service, Radio Spectrum Office, and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in one place. At another level this Government’s commitment to make its services to businesses more responsive is also reflected by Cabinet’s decision to integrate Industry New Zealand and Trade New Zealand.

The integration of Industry NZ and TradeNZ will reduce the number of government agencies that companies need to engage with. At the same time, Industry NZ, Tech NZ, FoRST and the new Tertiary Education Council are working closely together to co-ordinate the delivery of their services.

This Government takes its commitment to business seriously and we are working to make compliance easier for businesses.

The Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs provided a number of solutions to compliance cost issues that came from the business community itself. The compliance costs reduction strategy will ensure that those recommendations agreed to by the Government are implemented.

The Ministry of Economic Development’s Companies Office is utilising technology to reduce business compliance costs. The Office identified business preference for online services and has now moved to delivering services electronically as far as possible.

Overall: 92 per cent of new companies are registered online 95 per cent of company name registrations are now online 73 per cent of the Companies Office clients are using the online service about 86 per cent of annual returns are filed online online company searches now cost only $2 (previously $10) online registrations cost $50 compared to some countries, such as the United States, where it can cost up to $NZ600 to register a company.

I have visited all regions of New Zealand and the growth and optimism is unlike anything I have seen in the last 40 years.

This is especially so in Canterbury.

The Canterbury regional economy is in very good shape with economic activity growing by 4.2 percent in the year to June, which is consistent with the New Zealand average. There is a better picture over the last six months as Canterbury has experienced 4.1 percent growth compared to 2.7 percent for New Zealand as a whole.

This is reflected in Canterbury’s employment figures which for the year to June 2002 increased by 5.5 per cent over the previous year. Unemployment in the region is below the national average at 4.7 per cent in June - down 1.1 per cent on June 2001 and against a New Zealand average of 5.1 per cent.

If Canterbury and New Zealand are going to sustain this growth we need to capitalise the new ideas of New Zealanders. There are many innovative businesses in this region.

For example, the Lord of the Rings would not have been the same if it wasn’t for a small Christchurch company, ARANZ. The hand held scanner they developed allowed Peter Jackson and the team to scan actors and large objects quickly as they acted.

Current employment in the six major electronics companies in Christchurch is assessed at 1,900 people and projected to grow in four years to 2,600 people. Productivity from those firms in the same period is due to rise from $418million to $681 million per annum – a 63 per cent increase.

The wider impact of this growth is much greater, with every new job in the industry predicted to create 3.4 other jobs in Canterbury.

These companies are collaborating on a range of activities. Allied Telesyn Research, Dynamic Controls, Invensys Energy Systems (NZ), PDL Industries, Tait Electronics and Trimble Navigation New Zealand, have formed a high-tech industry network.

The significant increases in productivity observed in the electronics industry in Christchurch is in large part due to the strong focus on skills development with 13,450 training days invested in staff each year.

These businesses have recognised that future growth required a co-ordinated focus from business, government and education. As an example, a jointly funded initiative by five of the companies is a web site designed to attract skilled overseas staff.

We now need to ensure we capture and make the best use of our new ideas.

Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of our economy and we need to support and build on them.

Our economic future depends on how well we do this.

Talent and innovation of New Zealand engineers; Christchurch Engine Centre Hamilton jet boats Bruce McLaren Britten Motorcycles Refrigerated container ships Tauranga Motor Mowers Angus Tait Hi Tech health care development Alan McDiarmid – Nobel Prize winning NZ Chemist, small companies with venture ideas Recent winners of the Westpac Hi Tech Awards 2002 were mostly from Canterbury including Connexionz Ltd, Niche Software, iTouch Business Mobility, and Pulse Data International Ltd.

There are many other examples of innovative New Zealand companies but the message is clear, New Zealanders are talented and we have more ideas and creative energy per head of population than nations much larger than ours.

We have the opportunity to create a strong and sustainable business and enterprise culture.

We can make the most from the flying start of the last three years produced by favourable economic conditions and the economic development partnerships supported by this Government.

This requires more commitment to succeeding than we have had in the past.

It also requires greater understanding of our businesses and how to make them flourish.

We still have a long way to go

I can say this Government is committed to working with you to keep learning how we can do better.

If we keep our eye on moving forward, the economy we look at in three years time will be light years ahead of where we are today.

This new business centre shows our commitment to you and this region and the wider South Island.

Thank you.

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