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Launch of the Canterbury Economic Recovery Programme

Hon Gerry Brownlee
Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

6 December 2012 Speech Notes

Launch of the Canterbury Economic Recovery Programme, Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Today’s launch of the Economic Recovery Programme is an opportunity to reflect on how far Canterbury has come since the earthquakes, and the many reasons we have to be optimistic about the region’s future.

It’s an incredible testament to the resilience of the business community that based on recent estimates regional GDP for Canterbury has bounced back to pre-earthquake levels.

Economic activity data has shown Canterbury to be the fastest growing region in New Zealand over the past 18 months, and the rebuild proper is only just beginning.

Here are some of the highlights:

In the latest Household Labour Force Survey unemployment fell from 5.5 per cent to 5.2 per cent; our total labour force rose while jobless numbers declined.

Canterbury is now recording positive inward migration. Official estimates are that the population of greater Christchurch has fallen by less than 2 per cent since the quakes, while Selwyn has grown by 6.9 per cent, and Waimakariri has grown by 3.3 per cent.

Not only are people choosing to stay, Canterbury leads the way in optimism. A net 36 per cent of households expect mainly good economic times in the year ahead.

The growth of consumer spending in the last year is the highest of any region in New Zealand. According to Paymark’s October data, spending in Canterbury increased by 6.5 per cent year-on-year.

Employment opportunities will continue to flow, with SCIRT identifying the need to attract 900 new entrants to the infrastructure rebuild industry over the next 12 months to support its work programme.

An additional 300 people will need to be recruited each year to cover standard attrition.

SCIRT, assisted by a number of industry providers and workplace tutors, will also provide a range of training opportunities.

As the rebuild gathers pace, construction activity continues to accelerate.

The number of building consents for new residential dwellings in Canterbury increased by 80 per cent in the 12 months to September.

And non-residential building consents grew by 81 per cent in the same period.

So Canterbury, post recovery, is going to have a solid economic platform to grow from.

The challenge is to see that we do that, and identifying the best means by which to succeed has been the role of Steve Wakefield and his Economic Recovery team inside CERA.

Before I ask Steve to speak about the Economic Recovery Programme I would like to make two points.

The first is that we’ve been very lucky to have a person of Steve’s experience and capacity inside CERA.

Having led the economic recovery team in the compilation of this plan and its work programme, Steve is leaving CERA to return to his role as managing partner at Deloitte.

And Deloitte will be very pleased to have him back, not the least because Steve has just been named chartered accountant of the year by the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants.

That is a huge accolade Steve, and one I know is richly deserved.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your service to the recovery – we’ve been very lucky to have you on board and I know you’ll be missed by the CERA team.


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