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A Defining Week For New Zealand

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley is predicting that two major events this week will highlight defining differences between the two major political parties, and lay the groundwork for next year's election.

"The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification and the Knowledge Wave Conference both address issues which are crucial to the economic future of New Zealand," Mrs Shipley told a Rotary function in Wellington today.

"Both biotechnology and the knowledge economy have an enormous potential to create new jobs, generate new wealth and see New Zealand reach higher rates of growth than has been our recent experience.

"The Knowledge Wave Conference creates the opportunity for a major public policy debate on how to increase New Zealand's growth rate, with input from overseas and New Zealand politicians, academics and business leaders. National has made a commitment to increase that growth rate from the current 2% to a sustainable level of between 5 and 6%, which would generate a real increase in New Zealanders' take-home pay.

"National welcomes these two major events this week as an important signal of a wider public discussion about what policies will promote growth in New Zealand.

"I believe real pressure will be put on the current Labour Government to give clear commitments as to whether it is willing to make the necessary changes in areas such as tax, foreign investment, public and private sector partnerships, the Resource Management Act and other areas of compliance policy.

"This could prove to be a defining week politically, as to whether the current Government can move from political spin to a substantial commitment to a policy agenda that will promote real economic growth.

"They begin on the back foot, with recent reports such as the one on compliance costs making it clear that most of the policy decisions taken by Labour since coming to office have made it harder to do business, not easier.

"I predict that defining points of difference and commitment will emerge around the important issues being discussed this week. Those differences will lay the groundwork for the election next year, in terms of which party can genuinely promise to deliver growth and prosperity. I look forward to that debate.

"National's commitment to addressing these major issues is reflected in the fact we will have a team of six MPs, lead by myself, at the Knowledge Wave Conference in Auckland.

"We will take every opportunity to promote our ideas, and also listen and learn from the expert range of speakers and delegates present at the conference.

"New Zealand's future success requires politicians to close the gap between 'wishful thinking' and real economic and social gain. This is a defining week in that respect," Jenny Shipley concluded.

Ends


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