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Rick Barker - Congratulations to small business

Congratulations to small business

Rick Barker addresses attendees at the 2005, Vero Excellence in Business Support Awards dinner in Auckland

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Good evening and thank you for the invitation to speak tonight.

I want to thank Sarah Trotman for inviting me here to speak on this occasion, an occasion that acknowledges the hard work of business people in New Zealand.

Sometimes people get the impression, sometimes people seem to believe that those who do well have just been lucky.
Gary Player, a great golfer, put this into perspective when he said "The harder you work, the luckier you get" - and how apt is this for SMEs.

We must, as New Zealanders, celebrate our successes, successes that don't come purely out of luck, but out of hard work.

Our winners tonight are great examples of excellence and success through effort
It is fantastic to see this ceremony attracts such big interest.

I would like to congratulate the finalists for demonstrating excellence in leading our SME sector.

The finalists navigated their way through a tough selection process and come out on top.

I know that the judges have worked very hard to select this group on finalists.

This awards night is an opportunity to praise and promote those people whose willingness to take risks, and whose success has contributed so much to New Zealand's SMEs.

The small business sector in New Zealand is a huge success story in itself.

The sector is innovative and energetic it contributes hugely to economic growth.

At last count there were 312,340 SMEs in New Zealand a 10% growth from the previous period a doubling of the growth rate.

•SMEs contribute over a third of the total economic output.

•And created 60% of all new jobs between 2000 and 2004

SMEs are doing well, the government wants them to do better. To assist in leading this continued improvement, the government has brought together the Small Business Advisory Group.

The Small Business Advisory Group first annual report is due very shortly for a response from me as Minister for Small Business.

You will be pleased to know that this government has done many of the things they asked for already.

For example the Advisory Group sees these sorts of events as encouraging of the contribution of business to the economic, social, community and cultural life of our cities and regions.

They believe such competitions show companies what can be achieved and what better performance actually looks like.

Go-ahead companies will then benchmark themselves against the winners and thus lift their own performance and that of the economy.

Tonight you are assisting me in meeting one of their expectations and that is an increase in the number of business award competitions

- so drink up you are making a politician happy and it proves you can work and have fun at the same time.

SBAG's report contains some very direct, very straight-up recommendations on what small business would like government to be doing for Small Business.

Some of the recommendations, like looking at FBT on motor vehicles, and accelerating depreciation on items of plant, are specific. And these issues have been addressed in the budget.

We launched the Business Consultation database last week to collect a register of people with an interest in business that are willing to be consulted on business related policy and regulation.

The aim is that ministers can know better the impact of legislation before making decisions.

I am soliciting here for business and I invite you all to register here at the show at the MED stand so that we can better inform the decision making process by consultation with you.

It's voluntary, it's necessary and it is a key to being able to deliver legislation and policy that assists SMEs to continually improve.

I recently released the final report of Ministerial Panel on Compliance Costs and the report shows that of the 155 recommendations we agreed to:
90% of recommendations agreed to, have been implemented or are currently being implemented.

90% must be close to, in my book, an A pass.

The remainder have been superseded by other developments that address the same issues.

From an international perspective according to the World Bank we have the easiest place of 145 countries to do business and that includes The US, UK and Australia.

I recently visited the World Bank and asked them what we can do better and they told me "do more of the same and keep on improving".

When I asked them what advice did you give to other countries they said "go to New Zealand and see what they are doing as they have best practice or very close to it and this is why they are number one of 145 countries".

And we are doing well even by our own tough standards.

Proof of that is in KPMGs 2004 Business Compliance Cost Survey, showing a significant trend drop in the cost of compliance compared with 2003, particularly to businesses with less than 20 staff.

The SME sector is without question an important contributor to the New Zealand success story.

The success of SMEs is the success of New Zealand and you in the sector deserve to be congratulated for your hard work.
And tonight we are here to celebrate the people who have supported that success.

I'll leave you with a final thought.

Success is getting what you want
Happiness is wanting what you get.

I hope you are all both successful and happy.

Thankyou

ENDS

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