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Jim Anderton Speech to Venture Forum

Jim Anderton Speech to Venture Forum

5.00PM Wednesday, 25 June 2003. Maritime Museum, Auckland Viaduct

This is an important forum.

An enterprise culture is crucial to New Zealand’s economic development. If we want higher living standards, then a more entrepreneurial culture will help us to achieve it.

We need lift the performance of the New Zealand economy.

Our incomes are falling behind the average of the rest of the developed world. The main reason is our dependence on commodity exports. We need to produce and sell more complex manufactured goods and creative services. Prosperity will be created out of the unique skills and talents of New Zealanders.

Entrepreneurs are a catalyst for the growth we need. Entrepreneurial behaviour has a positive effect on the economy. It leads to higher standards of living.

There are many elements to an enterprise culture. We need to invest in creativity and skills. We need to remove the barriers to development.

We need to be confident in our own talents. An enterprise culture is one which believes in itself. We need to stop telling ourselves ‘New Zealand will never do that.’ New Zealand makes aeroplanes Jet ferry engines made by Rolls Royce and Hamilton Jet. We need to be open to the ideas of others. We are accepting of the world’s best and confident in our own ability to match anyone else. We need to risk failure If you look at some famous international corporations, a series of failures lies behind them. We are too quick to punish failure. We need to ensure there are safety nets so that the cost of failure is not too high. (We don’t put bankrupts in debtors prison anymore). We need to provide appropriate support for people to have a go.

We need to celebrate enterprise and success. That is why the government has convened this event. The government is working in partnership with industry, academic world and communities to change attitudes.

Industry New Zealand commissioned research to see how much we need to do. The results are worth some comment.

New Zealanders support and celebrate our sporting heroes but not our business heroes. About a third believe it is not appropriate to celebrate business success. They prefer successful businesspeople to remain modest about their achievements The cynicism almost certainly arises from corporate behaviour that was self-serving. For example, people who were seen to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

If we want to reduce cynicism about business success, then we need to challenge business activities that don’t serve the public good. We also need to celebrate those whose activities do serve others. True business heroes start businesses, and help other good ideas to flourish. It means celebrating not wealth itself, but the wealth of ideas, creativity and energy

Only six percent of New Zealanders mentioned business or the economy as factors likely to ensure their ideal New Zealand. That is disappointing. Jobs and a strong economy are crucial. No third world countries with first world health and education. A strong economy doesn’t guarantee strong social services, but it gives you the option.

Nearly half the country found economic issues boring When it seems remote and full of jargon, it is boring to many people. But it is exciting when the issues are framed in terms of jobs, vibrant communities and opportunities for our young people.

The creativity of business and the exciting things business people are doing is not boring. 94% of people do admire people who take a risk and start their own business

We have to educate and inform our communities about the valuable role businesses play in our communities. The lessons from today will help us to change attitudes. That will be positive for New Zealanders. There are some positive attitudes to build on. There are some that need to change. At least we have begun.

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