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Anderton Speech to CTU Canterbury

Hon Jim Anderton Progressive leader Speech to CTU Canterbury

7pm Tuesday 30 August 2005-08-29 Woolston Club in the Bowling Club Pavilion 43 Hargood St Christchurch


The key policy that I bring to the coalition for workers is economic development in order to achieve full employment and better paid jobs.

In the 1980s and 1990s we had governments who thought it was important to maintain 7 per cent unemployment in order to keep inflation down, guided by Don Brash as Governor of the Reserve Bank.

The added trauma caused by restructuring put tens of thousands more out of work.

I have consistently opposed such policies.

In the 1980s and 1990s they led to a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich.

Between 1982 and 2001 the richest 10 per cent of the population gained 35 per cent in household incomes and the poorest lost 9 per cent.

We are still suffering the consequences today.

I'm now pleased to be in constructive coalition with a significantly changed Labour Party, where the Progressive Party contributes to both creating jobs and lifting wages.

The whole thrust of the work undertaken by the Ministry of Economic Development - which I established in the first coalition with Labour - is to lift the value in our economy, as that is the only way we will sustainably lift living standards for all New Zealanders.

There is no future in promoting low wage jobs in New Zealand.

Some will complain about trading with China for example.

If China makes cheap products at the low end of the value chain we're never going to compete and it doesn't help our workers to put up trade barriers so low wage jobs are protected.

The best way to raise wages is to compete in the global market effectively on our talents, our creativity and innovation.

Where a low value industry is struggling it is assisted to make the move to higher value production.

This is exactly what we have done in the textiles industry and it's working - exports have more than doubled since 1999 from $208 million to half a billion.

We've got to focus on high value - like Peri Drysdales 'Untouched World' or Deanne Apparel's flexible production strategies rather than being the 'cheapest' producers.

So the Progressive Party keen to work with you to lift New Zealand towards a high wage economy.

Progressive is also promoting decent conditions for workers.

We fought for, and won (by working with unions), four weeks paid annual leave for workers.

We have also worked hard to protect the few statutory holidays we have left where the majority of workers get a break.

We don't want workers being forced to work through Easter for example.

Progressives 2 votes were the deciding ones in keeping Easter Sunday safe in the Shop Trading Hours Bill last year.

Matt and I have been consistent ever since leaving labour, in supporting workers rights.

We've fought for key policies like paid parental leave, work/life balance, minimum wage increases, apprenticeships and industry training.

As a minor party coalition partner people don't often get to hear about the daily wins you have in improving policy and the big wins you do hear about are bound to be claimed by others.

That's frustrating.

But I can tell you this - you have to be inside the government to make daily improvements to policy.

You have to be able to negotiate, argue a point and make incremental gains to make progress.

Progressives are well experienced in achieving things in Parliament without screaming and shouting or slamming our partner in government.

You have to be constructive to get things done for New Zealanders.

The Progressives are a sensible, experienced, effective coalition partner and your vote is well rewarded when it is used to support us.

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