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PM’s Statement: Keeping NZ Moving Ahead

1 February 2005
Media Statement

PM’s Statement: Keeping NZ Moving Ahead

Prime Minister Helen Clark today restated the government’s vision for the future and canvassed priority areas of policy development in the Prime Minister’s Statement to Parliament.

The formal statement, delivered on the first sitting day of each year, reviews public affairs and outlines legislative and other policy intentions.

Helen Clark today emphasised the government’s commitment to lifting economic performance further, building a healthy and well-educated society, and ensuring a sustainable and better quality of life for all New Zealanders.

Priority areas for policy development and action identified by the Prime Minister included productivity; labour force participation, particularly in respect of women; savings initiatives; infrastructure development, and trade.

Helen Clark says the statement stands in stark contrast to the narrow and punitive focus of the Leader of the Opposition’s address on welfare in Orewa last week.

She told Parliament that New Zealand must keep moving ahead to become an even better place in which to live, work, bring up children and invest - and above all a place of which we are proud.

The Prime Minister outlined a number of areas in which intensive policy work was taking place.

Guided by its Growth and Innovation Framework, the government had focused on lifting skill and innovation levels, investment in science and research, and developing regional and sector strategies, offshore markets and contacts. This year’s budget would have more new initiatives linked to the Framework.

Helen Clark said a lift in labour productivity was essential if living standards were to continue growing. A reference group would be reporting to the government with concrete actions to drive productivity improvements in the workplace.

Among measures being considered to grow our skills base was looking at how to encourage migration home by expatriate New Zealanders.

Lifting the participation rates of women in the workplace was a focus of the speech, with Helen Clark signalling that more initiatives would be required in childcare and in work-life balance policies.

New savings initiatives were being developed to help New Zealanders build up their assets and security, and to reduce a national reliance on the savings of others.

This year the government is developing policy to encourage a co-ordinated lifetime approach to savings, to help save for retirement, home ownership and tertiary education.

“We know that the building blocks for a confident and secure nation are confident and secure families. An ownership society, in which every family has a stake and sees a future, makes our country strong,” Helen Clark said.

The Prime Minister also stressed the government’s commitment to first class infrastructure in areas such as energy, transport, and digital communications, and she signalled new funding in the budget for leveraging opportunities off new FTAs.

The government has the policies for a stronger and more prosperous future, and for building a nation which offers fairness and opportunity, Helen Clark said.

*****

NOTE: Prime Minister’s Full Statement available at:
Rt. Hon Helen Clark - Statement to Parliament http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0502/S00012.htm

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