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Budget facilitates jobs & economic development

Mat Robson Speech: Budget facilitates jobs & economic development

Mr Speaker,

This is the fourth progressive budget from the centre-left coalition elected in 1999.

The budget shows a net cash surplus of $4.2 billion from core government operations as at June 30, 2003, which lets us invest $1.2 billion net investment in physical assets like schools for the benefit of the nation, and $1.2 billion to be invested to partially fund known future pension liabilities.

This is responsible centre-left rule for the benefit of current and future generations. This is progress. This is the rebuilding of New Zealand.

Budget 2003 permits us to build further on the framework put in place in the past three and a half years to facilitate economic development, jobs and safer communities.

The need to have a framework in place to facilitate the creation of high-paying jobs for all of our people is all the more necessary because the international environment is so very uncertain.

Yesterday we had a frank insight into why the United States doesn't want to enter into a fair trade deal with New Zealand, a deal which would facilitate job opportunities in New Zealand export industries.

The reason the United States won't lower its punitive barriers on our exports has nothing to do with our independent foreign policy which puts New Zealand's interests first.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick yesterday told it as it is.

He dashed hopes of a fair trade deal between our two countries by citing too many objections from Washington-subsidized United States corporate agricultural interests in dairying and sheepmeat.

The anti-fair trade policies of the rich economies of the United States, Europe and Japan are against New Zealand's national interest which seeks a fair multilateral rules-based system. Their practices also cost lives and living standards in the developing world.

But that is the world we live in and Dr Cullen has to manage the coalition's finances with a view to having the most positive impact on the New Zealand economy within the context of the hard cold facts of the international environment.

Despite the uncertain international scene, Budget 2003 builds on the steps taken since 1999 to foster intelligent partnerships within industry sectors and regions, and between businesses and government agencies, to leverage more out of the business expansion opportunities in New Zealand and overseas as they arise.

In particular, I am pleased that this Budget provides for:

- Another $85 million for industry training schemes - we will have 100,000 in training by 2005;

- Another $56 million towards getting all youth under 20 into jobs, education or training by 2007

- $37 million over four years for a long term trade development strategy;

- $400 million over four years being added to the existing $112 million for industry and regional development funding;

This is investment in the future. It is a vote of confidence in the future of our young.

Budget 2003 will also deliver safer communities after the turmoil of the wasted years.

- There will be better state housing and a lot more of it if the Progressives have their way;

- There will be more children getting cheaper or free doctors visits;

- The elderly can look forward to cheaper health care;

- There is more for early prevention programmes. Much more of course is needed to prevent many of today's children becoming tomorrow's criminals.

And the coalition has shown it isn't afraid to address drug abuse and youth suicide problems with a number of programmes ranging from a clean-up of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories to a South Island youth residential treatment centre. In Auckland there will be an extension of Project Early - reflecting our emphasis on early intervention for safer communities.

Of course the Labour and Progressive parties won't agree on everything.

The Progressives, for example, will continue to advocate for no fee increases for any tertiary student.

The Progressives do not support fee increases. This country needs it's own highly skilled graduates to speed up our economic development.

If the Progressives alone set the policy of government, our priority would be to ensure that no individual tertiary student would face a fee increase.

And yes we recognize that would require either a reduced government surplus or cuts to other programmes of less priority to us than education.

The challenge to those voting against Budget 2003 - National, New Zealand First, ACT and the Greens - is to put up a coherent alternative upon which they can all agree.

But of course they can't agree on anything except to promote negativity and promise the Earth. But they stay silent on how they will develop the economy or what tax regimes they'll put in place.

The only other thing they agree about is that they are going to line up and vote against the Labour-Progressive coalition budget and their stance lets New Zealanders down.

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