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Anderton Speech: Centre Left Govt 1999 to 2002

Anderton Speech: Centre Left Government achievements 1999-2002

Speech on the third anniversary of the election of the centre left Government

There was a time only a few years ago when it seemed like the Government led vandalism of New Zealand’s economy and communities would never end.

After many years of the new right experiment that had failed dismally, we still had Government’s enthusiastic about privatising any remaining assets, including roads and successful SOEs like NZ Post.

Our regions were in decline.

We had persistent and stubborn unemployment.

The economy was sluggish.

And our infrastructure suffered from under-investment.

I’ll never forget election night 1999.

Despite the celebrations and the joy we shared in victory, all of us knew there was hard work ahead.

Helen Clark said the election clearly indicated that New Zealanders wanted a change of direction.

I said that we were in for a new era of co-operation and partnership for the country.

And this is what New Zealand has experienced.

We have aimed to create a strong economy and a higher standard of living for all our citizens.

What is amazing is just how much change this centre-left Coalition Government has achieved.

116,000 jobs in the last three years. More people in jobs than ever before. Real competition in the banking market with the establishment of the New Zealand owned Kiwibank. 12 weeks paid parental leave. Adult minimum wage and minimum youth wage annual increases. An additional $400 million over the next three years (2002/3-2004/5) in primary health care with free health care for all children and superannuitants on the horizon. Maintaining free health care services for children under six. An additional $250 million over 4 years (2000/1-2003/4) for mental health services. Tertiary Student fees frozen in 2001, 2002 and 2003. 550 more teachers employed and an extra 700 more funded for 2003. Early childhood education boosted by $8 million a year, giving more than 1300 early childhood services more money. Income related rents for low-income state house tenants have been restored, and we have 1600 additional state houses.

The New Zealand economy is growing at around 4 per cent.

All of New Zealand's regions have had year on year growth over the last 12 months.

This growth is slowing in some regions as businesses confront barriers to further development such as skills shortages.

We have gone from job shortages to skills shortages. There are over 116,000 new jobs and well over 3,000 modern apprentices with thousands to come. My colleague Ruth Dyson will be making an announcement on this in a few minutes.

New Zealanders have become optimists about the future that than pessimists.

I cannot remember a time in the last 40 years when the economy or our confidence was so strong.

Of course we have a long way to go.

We need to continue making New Zealand a better place to live and work.

We must address health and education issues including student debt, and we must continue to plan to maintain the momentum of growth in our regions and industries.

We have full employment policies in place for the first time in over 30 years. We can achieve full employment if we ensure the economy continues to develop through innovative and creative industry development.

We cannot be content with standing still.

The challenge Labour and the Progressives face is to ensure that we continue the progress we have made over the last 3 years by giving positive leadership to New Zealand.

The last three years have been hard work.

However, we can progressively achieve more if continue to keep our sights aimed high and we work for it.

New Zealand deserves nothing less.

I’ll now invite Ruth Dyson to say a few words about jobs and skills.

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