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Forum should look at practical steps

Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition Sunday 22 October 2000

Forum should look at practical steps to get New Zealand moving again

The lesson for New Zealand from Singapore and Ireland is the huge advances which can be made with clear government leadership - working in concert with business and the community - Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

Mrs Shipley was speaking after a two-day visit to Singapore and at the beginning of her visit to Ireland. During her time away she is looking at economic, educational and IT initiatives to achieve better economic performance and growth in an increasingly global economy.

"In my discussions one thing is abundantly clear - a country and its people can get ahead if they decide on common goals and co-operate to achieve them.

"The obvious key characteristic of this in Singapore and Ireland is a strongly shared common vision amongst politicians, business, educators, researchers and academics to focus on practical steps to get their countries ahead.

"The New Zealand Labour Government must urgently act to create this environment, rather than locking themselves away with a select group who agree with them, while excluding those who do not.

"Unfortunately for New Zealand that sense of co-operation has collapsed under the Labour-Alliance Government, and all New Zealanders are feeling the results and suffering the consequences of division at every level."

Mrs Shipley called on the Government to look at practical steps it could take to start to get New Zealand back on track. They include:

* Clear statements on what it is doing about costly policies such as paid parental leave that have not been costed into their budget, rather than the confusion which exists now. * Clear signals about the future regulatory environment to give a sense of where New Zealand is heading and how the Government is helping it get there, rather than the current uncertain environment which is costing shareholders. While other countries are moving ahead New Zealand is static, even though we are at the top of a commodity cycle. * A long, hard look at Government spending to see if the levels are right or whether spending should be cut in line with New Zealand's economic difficulties. "Both New Zealand and Singapore took a tough knock from the Asian financial crisis. But we both pulled out of it because of decisive Government action.

"Under National's leadership New Zealand was going ahead at 4.6 percent growth when we left office. This has now plummeted due to Labour's incompetence, while other economies continue to prosper.

"Singapore and other Asian economies are powering ahead because they're continuing to make the right policy shifts for the times.

"But New Zealand is dragging behind because the Government refuses to work with business, and it doesn't know what to do to get New Zealand moving again," Mrs Shipley said.

"I call on the Government to urgently take action to reverse the crisis of confidence currently facing New Zealand. As Government meets with a select group of business leaders this week, my advice is to drop the PR and rhetoric.

"Serious engagement is required, rather than the dogma and lecturing at those who create wealth and jobs that has characterised the first year of this Government.

"The lessons of those countries that are moving ahead strongly, to the benefit of their communities and their people, is that getting the best advice and taking it, working together with wealth creators and having a shared view of the future can bring success.

"By lifting those who can help make the economy grow we can also close the gaps for those currently excluded.

"National is determined to prepare a programme which will lift New Zealand again to past levels of success and is collecting up the best examples of world practice to add to our experience," Jenny Shipley said.

Ends

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