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Official opening of Huntly Energy Efficiency Trust

Hon Jim Anderton
Minister of Economic Development

Official opening of Huntly Energy Efficiency Trust new premises

39 Hakanoa Street, Huntly
9.00AM 26 February 2004

SPEECH NOTES

My parliamentary colleague Nanaia Mahuta, Kaumatua Thomas Nota, Keri Nota, Pat Kingi and Tokoroa Waikato, Kuia Mutual Broadhurst, Pamela Storey (Chair of the Huntly Energy Efficiency Trust (HEET), Peter Harris, Mayor of the Waikato District Council.

I’m slightly concerned about being at an energy efficiency trust because there is a joke about how many politicians does it take to change an energy efficient lightbulb?

Answer: Four, one to change it and the other three to criticise it.

It was always been a source of mystery to me that we could have a shortage of skilled forestry workers to harvest and process our trees, a shortage of affordable housing and thousands of young people who can’t find work.

Why wouldn’t you bring all those factors together, train unemployed young people in forestry work and carpentry and build houses for people who need them?

The same principle applies to the work of the Huntly Energy Efficiency Trust.

As I understand it, the Trust is a solution to problems including inefficient homes that waste energy and unemployment among young people in the region.

It meets the needs of the community for better, more energy efficient homes.

It makes the families who live in the homes healthier and it saves them money.

Long-term unemployed who have been trained as installers get the benefit of skills, the esteem of having a meaningful job and an income.

The scheme provides skills, opportunities, lasting improvements in home-owners’ well-being and economic as well as environmental benefits.

This is a model scheme.

In my view, this is what economic policy is all about.

It’s what economic development of New Zealand and of the regions of New Zealand is about.

It’s taking what we have, looking at our needs, and bringing them together.

By building on our strengths we can improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

I had the opportunity through the Huntly Energy Efficiency Trust in 2002 to meet with a North American company specialising in the economic benefits of energy savings.

We talked about how small communities in the US have worked to retain the savings from energy efficiency to recirculate in the local economy.

The advantages of retaining income here in Huntly, and using it to build the local economy are potentially enormous.

But we also need to build a local economy that is capable of maximising its earnings from the rest of the world and make its contribution to New Zealand’s prosperity.

New Zealand is good enough to succeed in the world.

On Waitangi day I gave a speech about our national identity.

I referred to my belief that we are increasingly developing a single national identity – even as we witness sad attempts to create division.

I call that emerging identity ‘ngati kiwi’.

It is based importantly on our economic identity.

It is the distinct and unique creativity and talent of New Zealanders, as the basis for our industrial edge in the world.

We see it in our film, in our music and in our arts.

But we also see it in the design of innovative New Zealand products.

We see it in our confidence as we compete in the world.

In every economic sector and in every town, we need to have confidence that we can succeed.

We need to have the confidence to go out into the world as New Zealanders, knowing that our identity will flourish and prosper as we plug into the opportunities the world has to offer.

That means we need the talent, creativity, skills, opportunities, and infrastructure to succeed.

This is where the main work is going in to regional development.

We are trying to build on the strengths of each region.

Each region was asked to sit down and work out its top priority for development.

Each region worked out a plan – in partnership with the government – for overcoming the obstacles to development.

For example, where there were skills shortages, we have put an emphasis on training, and re-aligning immigration rules.

A business improves its focus and performance by following a business plan.

It’s the same for regions.

When regions publicly express confidence that they have a future, it sends a positive signal to investors.

Who would invest in a region when even its leaders said it was dying?

In every region there is a fierce belief in the potential of regional economies.

There is a commitment to forge a future for our young people in the place where they are from.

Rotorua has a world-class wood-processing centre of excellence. Hawke’s Bay chose food processing.

Southland chose a broadband project.

Marlborough has a wine centre of excellence.

Taranaki selected heavy engineering.

Northland has chosen tourism.

Manawatu has biocommerce

In Hawkes Bay they chose to develop their food and wine industries,

The Nelson/Tasman region selected seafood as its top priority for development,

And Wellington chose the film industry.

Here in the Waikato, last week I opened the Life Science and Innovation park.

This was developed as the result of a broad regional consensus that it was the top priority for development.

The government kicked in more than $2 million towards the cost and the community found the rest.

Now that it’s been opened, the region can come back for another Major Regional Initiative.

It can’t happen soon enough for me.

The criteria for each development is that it would build on the existing strength of the region and lead to high-value, high-skill, job-rich development.

The Waikato Innovation Park will create jobs and the potential for world class success in commercialising the Waikato’s advantages in life sciences.

Over time, the industrial base of each region will be broadened and deepened.

By building on regional strengths in this way, every region of New Zealand is in positive growth mode.

A consumer confidence survey shows people feel more confident than at any time in the last fifteen years,

It is not just a coincidence that we have achieved and maintained the lowest level of unemployment since 1987.

We should celebrate how well our country is doing.

But we also need to harness the gains of good years and try to lock them in.

We can’t contemplate the prospect of throwing it all away, of going back to the past, back to boom and bust as some politicians have indicated they would do.

We have done the spade work in our regional development processes.

The first stage has brought regions together, constructed strategies and in many cases put major regional initiatives on those foundations.

Now we need to push on.

We need to continue to address barriers to regional investment.

We must realise the unfulfilled economic potential in our regions.

We need to get behind local initiatives and make the most of all our people.

Economic growth is not an end in itself.

It’s something we pursue to unlock the potential of New Zealanders.

It means more jobs, higher incomes and more secure social services.

Before we had regional partnerships – under the policies some would take us back to – we grew about 1% slower on average than Australia.

If we had kept pace, each family would have another $175 a week more than they do now.

We could have a free education and health system.

We could fix the roads, easily.

The only way to secure that economic growth is to work in partnership and to build on our strengths.

Our creativity is one of greatest strengths, because it represents things that can only be done here.

In the Waikato, there are numerous examples of innovation in firms like Advanced Animal technologies and PavTech.

There is an aircraft manufacturer here!

The Huntly Energy Efficiency Trust is an example of a creative economic development contribution.

We need groups, supported by the community with the partnership of government, to work together.

The work you are doing to provide skills to workers is an example of that.

It helps the Waikato work its way through skills shortages issues.

I would like to congratulate you on your success to date and wish you well for your future development.

This is a good time to be a New Zealander.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that.

We are enjoying the best period of stable economic growth in a generation.

Last year our growth rate topped the OECD.

Instead of sliding down the national income tables – as we have been for thirty years -- we nudged up to rejoin the world’s top twenty economies.

There was a lengthy radio report recently about how terrible everything was in the regions.

It said house prices were booming, staff were becoming too expensive – and it was hard to find anyone at all because they all had jobs.

Maybe we should stop!

House prices are soaring in many regions because the regions are strong again.

Wages are higher and rising – and that’s great!

It means there is demand, good jobs, and people are being paid for their skills.

I hope wages rise higher still.

If employers are finding it hard to find skilled labour it is at least partly because unemployment is low.

It's also at least partly because the word 'apprentice' became a dirty word twenty years ago and we stopped training them

But a high demand for skills is a sign of health.

We can therefore be optimistic about New Zealand.

We have more opportunity and cause for hope than we have had in a generation.

We need to be sure that the gains of our progress are invested wisely.

We need to invest in our futures.

We need to invest in the skills, health and well-being of our children.

We need to support the talent and innovation harnessed by community enterprises like this one.

We need infrastructure that will allow business to flourish.

We need social values and opportunities that allow people to flourish.

And most of all we need hope and confidence.

I started with a joke about how many politicians it takes to screw in an energy efficient lightbulb.

Of course, politicians don’t screw in lightbulbs, we have officials who do that for us.

So how many officials do you think it takes to change an energy efficient lightbulb?

220! One to write a speech about how good it will be when the bulb is actually changed

One to write a speech about why the other parties can't even spell "lightbulb",

Eighteen to find out what the other parties did when the lightbulb failed, and another two hundred to find out what the voters think about lightbulbs, bulbs, pear-shaped objects, light in general, and any form of energy.

Good luck with your new premises and your valuable work in the future.

Ends.

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