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Speech to Bright Future Launch, Avalon, 18 August

Speech to Bright Future Launch, Avalon, 18 August 1999

Hon Bill English
Treasurer

MP for Clutha-Southland
Speech to Bright Future Launch,
Avalon, 18 August 1999

The Bright Future programme is one of the ways the Government will contribute to building a stronger, more diversified economy in the future.

Today's package is a first step in that direction. It demonstrates that the Government will put its weight to the wheel because education and business need our support.

New ideas which lead to new products and services will help generate new jobs and better incomes.

However, this kind of package won't change the economy by itself. It is one of a number of policies that rewards enterprise and ensures our whole economy, both our traditional industries and the new ones, is as competitive as possible.

Bright Future is part of a wider economic policy.

We need to develop and utilise new technologies for new services and new jobs. But much of New Zealand's capital and many of our people are tied up in traditional commodity industries. We cannot walk away from our people, and it is vital that this capital is mobilised.

Bright Future offers opportunities to our traditional industries. They can benefit from our efforts to turn the accumulated intellectual property of Government's extensive research into better performance. This is particularly the case for agriculture with the coming biotechnology revolution.

But it is also crucial that the Government press ahead with its programme to make our traditional industries as competitive as possible. In addition to this package there are five other areas for Government action to build a stronger economy.

We will maintain the sound economic policy that has served New Zealand well over the last decade - a flexible labour market, low inflation, prudent fiscal policy, low broad based taxes and debt repayment. We can't take these for granted.

Next we will pursue lower taxes, which are part of a culture of innovation and enterprise. Our first priority is to lower the middle tax rate from 20c to $40,000. Our next priority is to lower the top tax rate and the corporate rate.

Thirdly we will keep driving to make our economy more competitive. This year we have moved on producer boards and ACC. These changes affect every primary producer and, in the case of ACC, every workplace. Ahead of us are the big infrastructure issues - roading management, water and wastewater, business compliance costs, and the Resource Management Act.

We must consider how Government activity, which accounts for 35% of the economy, is contributing to productivity growth and the knowledge economy. Public investment should focus on the cutting edge of the economy. Government is considering how to incorporate e-commerce into its activities.

The final area is that we must make sure that what the Government spends on health, education and welfare is spent in such a way that we can actually make a difference. We must break the cycles of disadvantage by offering more choice and flexibility to everyone who uses public services. In particular, our education system can be more like the children in it, growing and changing all the time.

Bright Future is about the Government looking at its own involvement in the knowledge economy.

The fact is, Government is heavily involved already in tertiary education and research and development. We spend $600 million each year on R&D and $1 billion on tertiary education. That means we are already hands on.

Bright Future is the first step in thinking how we are involved. The major reviews signalled today of tertiary education, skills education, and R&D are the second step.

What we are after is practical results from commonsense policy. This Government is willing to take a lead.

ends


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