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Anderton: Construction Training Speech

20 August 2004

Construction Training Course for flood region - opening speech

A construction industry training course is opened by Jim Anderton.

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Deputy Chief executive Clare Crawley, Mayor of Palmerston North Mark Bell-Booth, students, and distinguished guests.

You can never be sure how a politician is going to begin his speech.

There's a story about a certain world leader who arrived to open the Olympics last weekend.

He stood up, thanked the audience for his introduction and began by saying "oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.'

One of his aides ran up to him and whispered, "Mr President, that's the Olympic logo. Your speech starts underneath."

Let me tell you some of the many reasons I like this course.

First it's free to the student, because it's scholarship funded.

It's about time we had free access to education in this country.

It's free because it recognises the importance of the contribution students can make to the development of this region.

And for exactly that reason, all tertiary courses should be free.

I like this course because it is an example of meeting the need of the region.

It will help to rebuild a community and it will lead to long-term careers.

I like it because it's an example of a tertiary institution working in partnership with the community.

I like it because it is an example of central government working in partnership too.

NZ Trade and Enterprise's polytech regional development fund has contributed to the course.

And most of all, this course is about opportunity - for regions and for individuals.

Back in June the regional economic development agency Vision Manawatu looked at the economic effects of the February floods.

This region provides about five per cent of New Zealand's economic wealth and jobs.

Rural producers account for about 20% of the region's economy and jobs.

That crucial sector bore the brunt of the flooding.

I saw that flooding myself.

I came here and witnessed the incredible devastation of farms, land and livelihoods.

I met many of those affected.

I heard their determination to put things back on track.

For the last four years or so, jobs and the regional economy have been growing strongly.

But while the region has enjoyed relatively good times, the flooding came at a time when the local economy was starting to slow for a while.

This is not a matter of raw isolated figures.

It's a matter of real effects on the livelihoods and opportunities of real people, real families, and real jobs.

The trade skill shortages in this region make it harder to recover.

The region needs skilled people to help with the massive rebuilding and reconstruction that is needed.

This is one area where the government can help.

The government has a vital role to play in standing along side communities when setbacks strike.

It can be a partner to reduce the effects of the flooding.

The government fronted up to the flooding here and decided on a recovery assistance package.

The Vision Manawatu study found flooding in the Manawatu and Wanganui region caused a $141 million drop in the local economy.

$82 million of that was caused directly and another $59 million downstream.

But the government's recovery assistance package pumped $115 million into the regional economy, directly and indirectly.

In the next financial year, the effects of the package will actually outweigh the lost production from the floods.

It will reduce job losses caused by the floods from 1762, to about 1550.

That is what can be achieved by working together, in partnership.

This project is a tangible example.

There was a shortage of tradespeople; so this course was created.

There were people needing skills; so they were trained.

There was a need; so it was met.

There was a job to do; and it was done.

When community and industry work together in partnership, we can all win.

Partnerships don't just spring from nowhere.

You have to decide to do it.

For a long time in this country, governments decided not to do it.

They stood on the sideline while the regions of New Zealand spiralled into decline.

One region after another was losing jobs and services.

Some - even in good years - were going backwards faster than if they had been hit by floods.

I could never understand it - if you don't have strong regional economies, how could you have a strong national economy?

So this government decided to take a new approach.

We set out to work in partnership with regions and with industry.

Each region identified its top priorities for development.

The government has worked proactively to unleash the potential of our creative and innovative businesses.

We have enormously creative and talented businesses.

We need to celebrate them and inspire more to grow.

If we can create more world scale companies, we can create far more high-value jobs and prosperity for New Zealanders.

Yesterday I spoke at a conference in Auckland of business leaders from around the APEC region.

I was there to talk to them about the advantages of New Zealand.

The idea was to encourage them to work with New Zealand businesses and open up more opportunities around the world.

Can you guess what I told them was the main advantage New Zealand offers?

The talent and creativity of innovative New Zealanders.

I told them that we have developed a culture of innovation because we are small and far from the rest of the developed world.

We are used to having to solve problems and having the freedom to try things out.

Our innovation and creativity is a huge strength for New Zealand.

The more the world economy develops, the more demand increases for uniqueness, for the ideas of individuals.

Consumers want more choice.

Goods and services are becoming more sophisticated.

We need to recognise the world economy is changing.

It's more common for production to be spread across a number of countries and components sourced globally.

We got a feel for that when some baby food products had to be recalled recently.

Many people were surprised to find flour had come from China, other ingredients from elsewhere and then the whole lot blended and processed and re-exported.

If we want to enjoy the living standards of other countries we need to be part of that world economy.

All this is crucially linked to this course, because it is both an opportunity and a threat.

It's an opportunity because the changes mean skills are going to become more important, and this course teaches valuable skills.

But it also requires us a businesses, regions and as a country to meet the challenge of being good enough to be part of global production chains.

We have a lot to get right.

We need to have the skills.

We need production processes and creative, innovative products.

We need to be adaptable and to build on our competitive strengths.

We need to have networks with the world.

In turn, we need the conditions to produce all these things.

We need to transform our economy to do it.

We're not as plugged in to the rest of the world as other developed countries.

We produce fewer complex manufactured goods as a proportion of our income than any other developed country.

So we're not participating as fully as we need to in the highest growth areas of the world economy.

Our exporters need to be driven by the demands and requirements of customers in global markets.

Our businesses need to be globally-focused from the outset.

One example I have been working closely with is Tenon - formerly Fletcher Challenge Forests.

It set up a relationship with a Danish furniture design company.

Back in January, Zenia House launched a new range of furniture.

It was made from New Zealand Radiata pine.

Zenia House released it at one of the world's leading furniture fairs in Cologne, Germany.

Two government agencies - New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Investment New Zealand - worked behind the scenes in Europe to help dispel the myth that radiata is not suitable for designer furniture.

>From those initial approaches, Zenia House visited New Zealand and were introduced to Tenon.

The Zenia House-Tenon partnership is an example of how government can work with New Zealand businesses to help them expand.

The partnership adds a significant new dimension to New Zealand's wood processing industry.

It is a great example for all New Zealand companies of how international relationships can be used to get footholds in international markets.

It's also an example of what other New Zealand companies need to be doing.

It shows the government will be there to help if required.

In the same way the government is here to help this region, not only when times are tough because of the floods.

We'll be here when times are better too, because there will still be a lot to do.

This region is capable of considerable prosperity.

I have a vision of creating enough opportunity that any young person growing up here can have a future here, a job, an income and a lifestyle to rival anywhere in the developed world.

The construction industry this course prepares young people for will be part of that future.

It's an industry closely linked to many more.

Architects, the wood processing sector and niche manufacturers are all linked to construction.

With five per cent of New Zealand's processing and manufacturing jobs in this region, there are substantial possible spin-offs for other industries from growth in construction.

So I want to wish you all the best with the success of this course.

And I particularly want to wish participants all the very best.

This is a good time to be a New Zealander.

Not because of the Olympics or the All Blacks.

Not because of our natural physical environment.

But because of the achievement of creative, talented New Zealanders.

We have never been doing so much in the world.

We have never achieved as much.

We need to build on what we have.

We need to be a caring community, where we look out for the needs of other New Zealanders.

And above all, we need to celebrate the special opportunities we have.

This course helps to unleash more of our potential, and it does so for the good of all our community.

Your new skills will put you and the region in fine shape for the future.

I wish you all the best.

ENDS


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