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Anderton Speech: Success By Design

Jim Anderton Speech: Success By Design Release of the Design Taskforce Report

11:30 am Tuesday, 27 May 2003 Launch of Design Taskforce Report Auckland Fisher & Paykel factory, 78 Springs Rd, East Tamaki.

I would like to first of all offer my congratulations to the members of the Design Taskforce: Ray Labone Richard Cutfield Mary Davy Neville Findlay Professor Simon Fraser Peter Haythornthwaite Michael James Bina Klose Jeremy Moon Mark Pennington Professor John Raine Henare Walmsley Professor Leong Yap

A few years ago, someone did a survey and asked people how they would like New Zealand to be known to the world.

About two per cent said they wanted New Zealand to be known for our sporting excellence – our All Blacks and our yachtsman.

Maybe not our cricketers.

A larger group, but still only a minority, wanted New Zealand to be known for our precious natural environment, and beautiful physical resources.

The next largest group – about a third – wanted New Zealand to be known as a fair and just land of opportunity.

All of these are attractive and desirable features of New Zealand.

But there was one more characteristic of New Zealand, and it is the one chosen by the largest group surveyed, as the characteristic they would most like New Zealand to be known by.

It was our talent, creativity and our innovation.

We live in the most isolated developed country in the world.

Certainly that poses challenges for reaching international markets.

But it has also delivered special advantages.

We have had to be more resourceful because we have had to solve so many problems ourselves.

We haven’t had the resources that other countries can sometimes call upon.

It is resourcefulness and creativity that distinguishes many of our most successful enterprises.

Businesses like Fisher and Paykel – with the dishwasher drawer; CWF Hamilton, and the marine jet engine; Glidepath - who make award-winning baggage handling systems; Formway and the internationally recognised Life Chair; or Pulse Data – who make revolutionary products for people with visual impairment.

The job we face is that we need far more companies like these succeeding on the international stage.

Two thirds of New Zealand companies that are successfully exporting consider design to be an essential contributor to their success.

Traditionally in New Zealand we relegated the role of design, to an ‘add on’ (story of toaster grills) partly because we have relied heavily on commodity exports – frozen mean, wool bales, butter and logs.

This is changing.

There are a growing number of New Zealand companies combining high investment in research and development with a strong focus on design to create brilliant products that the world wants.

I want us to be a country where we can afford health care for everyone, educational standards and a quality of life as good as anywhere.

But we need an economy that is capable of competing internationally if we’re going to be capable of delivering improved living standards for New Zealanders.

The quality of life New Zealanders aspire to can’t be produced by a low-cost, low-value, low-skill and low-rewards economy.

We are the lowest exporter of complex manufactured products in the OECD.

We import five times as much as we export.

The next lowest in the OECD is Greece – and it imports three times as much, as it exports.

We need to export more – far more – products based on the unique skills and creativity of New Zealanders. Design creates the edge we need if we are going to sell our products at the top of the market on the basis of their excellence, instead of trying to compete at the bottom on price.

When we sat down in government and said we wanted to lift our economic performance, we decided to work with those industries that have the greatest potential to make a rapid difference to our economy.

We chose biotech, IT, creative industries and design because those industries themselves offer huge potential for growth.

We also chose them because they underpin the success of so many other industries.

If we get them right, then other areas of the economy will flourish as a result.

Worldwide, there is a strong correlation between the countries that have achieved a high competitiveness ranking and their design capability.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness report identified that the top 25 countries for design ranking are also ranked in the top 25 for overall competitiveness.

Quite a few successful international economies understand, that connection.

Countries like Finland, Ireland, and the UK have developed policies and strategies to better integrate design into the entire fabric of business.

A design-led focus immediately increases the value and quality of a product.

This leads to greater export success through better visibility, brand awareness, increased sales and market share.

We not only need to foster design as an industry, we need to foster some of our uniqueness as well.

We are a young, fresh and diverse nation with a unique contribution of cultural influences.

Nowhere else in the world has a population of indigenous Maori citizens

Few other places in the world can unleash the potential of South Pacific cultural blends as we can.

These are real advantages and we need to recognise the commercial potential of these influences on our creativity.

Our challenge now is to harness that energy and translate it into export earnings and international recognition.

The Design Taskforce report presents opportunities and challenges – for our export businesses, our design businesses, our agencies and our Government.

I want to say something about the TaskForce process.

It’s not that long ago that orthodoxy said there was no role for government in working with industry.

I was never one to share that orthodoxy.

It’s fair to say I copped my share of criticism over the years for taking the view that the government has a role, working in partnership with industry.

But these days we are doing it – although I still get my share of abuse for it.

But it is working, because industry now has the government at the table, ready to play its part.

We know that successful, growing enterprises are the key to economic vitality.

And we also know that governments have a role in clearing away the barriers, as well as in facilitating, co-ordinating and sometimes even assisting, our economic development as a nation.

I want to assure you that if you have a good idea, we will be ready to work with you.

It’s in the nature of creativity and innovation that sometimes ideas fail and we need to stop punishing failure.

We need to leave alone the idea that -- just because sometimes some businesses we work with won’t make it -- governments shouldn’t work with any.

Instead, we need to focus on success – on celebrating it and on the work we can do to unlock it.

We set up the Design TaskForce with people who have already proven to be successful, in the design industry.

I would like to pay tribute to TaskForce members who have given freely of their time, experience and talent, to deliver this report to Government.

Every member is eminent in their field and we can be grateful for the contribution they have made.

My thanks also to Industry New Zealand staff, who have facilitated the process.

The process doesn’t end here with the production of a report.

I look forward to working with you on the report’s findings, their implementation and on the future success of the design industry.

We have a great deal to accomplish.

It’s time to get started.

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