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Building the conditions for economic growth

Hon Jim Anderton
Progressive Leader
Minister for Economic Development
Minister for Industry and Regional Development
Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Minister Responsible for Public Trust

Building the conditions for economic growth and healthy communities - Budget day speech

19 May 2005
4.25 – 4.35 p.m.


Madam Speaker

The Progressive Party supports this budget because this is a pro-business, pro-personal wellbeing budget that will make New Zealand a fairer place to live.

The driving force for the Progressive Party involvement in this and the previous coalition government is two- fold.

First, to develop a full employment economy and

secondly, to win social justice for our communities and regions after years of neglect from hands-off governments.

We are a business-friendly party with a social conscience.

Unlike the National Party.

They would turn back the clock to a low value, low wage economy.

The work we have done supporting businesses and hard working New Zealand families would be lost if a National government got hold of the Treasury benches.

They say they offer choice -

what they really offer you is the choice of high unemployment and low growth,

the choice for families to struggle without strong investment in early child care and after school care support which working families deserve,

the choice to turn back the clock to the failed ideas of the 1990s.

I say, don't go backwards with National - keep moving forward with a Labour Progressive coalition government.

This government promotes continuous and long lasting economic growth as an essential tool in providing the resources required to support strong social development programmes where no one is left behind.

Programmes to ensure low income families have access to their own home,

that prevent the harm caused by drug and alcohol abuse,

that lift the debt burden from young New Zealanders.

In order to maintain economic growth we need a well-educated, healthy workforce.

The best way to provide that is to improve access to education from early childhood through to tertiary level,

And to reduce the costs of primary health care to everyone.

This government has made significant steps toward these Progressive goals.

As Minister for Economic, Industry and Regional Development, I have been pleased to play a role in supporting both individual businesses and industry sectors in their work to lift economic growth.

With strategic economic planning, advice and support from this hands-on Labour-Progressive government, our regions and our industries have made huge strides in their development.

The facts tell their own story.

Every one of our regions has now been in positive growth mode year on year for 23 consecutive quarters - the whole time this government has been in office.

New Zealand has averaged a growth rate of 4 per cent over the last 6 years while the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average was 2.5 per cent.

The OECD described our job creation efforts as 'exceptional' - Mr Brash evidently knows better.

We have the second lowest rate of unemployment in the rich group of OECD nations, with only developmental dynamo South Korea ahead of us.

The World Bank, hardly a left-wing institution, lists New Zealand as number one in the world as the best country in which to do business,

And the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently described our economy as 'strongly positive' and our fiscal position as 'very strong' - Mr Brash evidently knows better.

In years past, if a government had what seemed to be a dream run with the economy the opposition would suggest that it was down to the world economic conditions, or external factors like the weather.

Let's look at the facts again then.

Over the past 6 years we've had the tragedy of 11th of September 2001, several exceptional floods, a high exchange rate because of a low United States dollar and increasing transport costs for our exporters.

Yet still we continue on this so-called dream run of economic growth.

We must be doing something right to survive these challenges and still have strong economic growth.

It is clear to me our work to support economic growth is an important part of our success.

For the first time in decades, the whole government is playing a role in building the conditions for economic growth.

We have not one but a core group of 12 Ministers playing a role in the work on the Growth and Innovation Framework - for which I am lead Minister,

and an extended group of 15 Ministers who are updated on this work on a weekly basis.

The Ministers for Economic Development, Finance, Labour, Trade Negotiations, Research, Science and Technology, Commerce, Information Technology, Education, Employment, Environment, Consumer Affairs and Tourism, all have key roles in supporting economic growth.

In order to survive in the global market we need to lift our game. Our research has found that foundation work needs to continue in four key areas: skills, innovation, global connections and digital communications infrastructure, in order to build the conditions necessary for sustainable economic growth.

Over the next four years Budget 2005's growth and innovation programmes in these areas will receive additional funding of:

$75.6 million for developing skills and talent - including the expansion of both Modern Apprenticeships and Industry Training programmes;

$80.5 million for strengthening our ability to be innovative - by increasing industry based research funding and the development of research consortia;

$66.9 million for increasing our international connections - while we also pursue trade agreements and expanding international investment opportunities;

$52.8 million for improving our infrastructure, including our digital communications infrastructure under the digital strategy announced this week.

Only by working in partnership with businesses, communities, regions and industry sectors around the country, have we managed to lift our game so consistently for so long.

Everyone knows that sustainable economic and social development go hand-in-hand.

The Progressive Party wants to deliver first class social services for our people but we know that we must also deliver a First World economy in order to deliver our dream of a society in which no one is left behind and where all can fulfill their potential.

Madam Speaker, it is known that as many as one in five New Zealanders may experience depression at some point in their lifetime.

But too few recognise the signs, or seek help, early enough to get effective treatment and avoid the negative impacts of depression on their lives and the lives of their families.

That is why the Progressive Party sought significant new funding in Budget 2005 in order to pay for a National Depression Initiative aimed at changing and, ultimately, saving lives.

Related to this, we also secured additional funding for the new all-ages suicide prevention strategy, to be led by the Ministry of Health.

The coalition government's campaign for safer communities includes programmes to help reduce the demand for drugs in our communities and in our schools.

It also aims to reduce the supply of drugs, including our Number One drug - alcohol.

Consistent with Progressive initiatives in Budget 2003 and Budget 2004, today's Budget includes measures to reduce the demand for drugs with another five new Community Action on Youth and Drugs, or CAYAD programmes, and increased investment to enhance the Police Department's ability to enforce liquor licensing laws.

The Progressive Party is proud to be part of a government which is delivering policies to propel the transformation of the base of our productive economy and which is increasing our collective investment in social services that benefit all.

I would urge opposition parties, including New Zealand First and the Greens, to vote in favour of this progressive and forward-looking budget.

Abstaining is just not a credible option, when we all know that the National-ACT alternative on offer would hurt so many New Zealanders while benefiting so few.


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