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Sovereign Yachts Building Opening - Jim Anderton

Hon Jim Anderton Speech Notes

3:30 pm Saturday 29 September 2001

Sovereign Yachts Building Opening

Invited guests
Mayor Bob Harvey
Bill Lloyd
Mimi Lloyd

It is significant that Monday marks the tenth anniversary of the Resource Management Act coming into effect.

When the Act was passed ten years ago it was hailed as a major advance in environmental and planning law.

The implications and effects of the RMA are still being evaluated.

Ten years later changes to the RMA, including responses to the recommendations of the Business Compliance Cost Panel on the RMA, are under active discussion within Government.

The results will be released by Environment Minister Marian Hobbs in the near future.

Improving the effectiveness and implementation of legislation such as the RMA, is always an ongoing process and the measures to be announced will be but one step in this process.

It is significant that today's opening ceremony comes two days before the tenth anniversary of the RMA coming into affect for two reasons.

The first is that there is often a tension between economic development and resource management, and I believe the Hobsonville base and Sovereign Yachts has shown that we can have both.

There are issues around the RMA, we can always improve legislation, but the Act does work.

The second reason is that we found that a whole-of-government approach, one which involves all relevant Government agencies including local authorities, is able to reflect many of the resource management principles underlying the RMA.

We have a beautiful country with a unique natural environment and we know it is in all of our interests to have a strong economy. The partnership approach being applied by this Labour/Alliance Coalition Government which involves business and the whole-of-government can deliver both of these outcomes.

It was only nine months ago that the Prime Minister and I joined Bill Lloyd to walk through the grassy plot on which the Sovereign facility stands today.

Twelve government agencies and Waitakere City Council worked together to bring Sovereign yachts and Bill Lloyd back to New Zealand, and now we are starting to see the fruits of these efforts.

Today we see a modern boat building facility of international standard.

And the first boat is in place.

A great start – 135 feet and $NZ30 million in value. Thirty staff are currently employed - and this will rise to between 65 and 80 by the new year.

Creating new jobs is great – but Sovereign Yachts is doing more.

There’s a shortage of laminators in Auckland, but rather than steal staff from others, Bill Lloyd will train new laminators for the industry.

He’s bringing people from his Canadian operation to do the training which will start in November. Other new staff will be trained in other advanced aspects of boat-building techniques.

Investment in skills is vital for boat building and for all of our industries.

There are excellent prospects for our Super Yacht industry in facilities from Northland to Invercargill, but we must deal with the challenge of skill shortages.

The Government is aware of that challenge and is working with this and other industries on a number of initiatives – in adult literacy as well as industry specific training.

In May I announced $200,000 of support for the Boating Industry Training Organisation to assist with training course development. I understand that work is now almost completed.

The funding has been used to identify and rank the skills areas that need to be addressed.

It has been used to look at developing cross-over training and upskilling of people from related trades.

We’re also looking at how we can better match business needs with the skills already out there.

A month or so ago Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey and I launched a new business growth and student work programme.

My visits around New Zealand showed me that there were businesses out there that, for a whole range of reasons, couldn’t find the skills they needed.

At the same time students were approaching us for work over summer.

This Government has created a pilot programme which addresses both this skills shortage and students need for skilled work.

The Student's Need Action Programme, or SNAP asks employers to look at projects they have that need skilled work and to get a student to undertake that work.

I invite all of you here to think very carefully about opportunities you might have to hire a student this summer and to help them and yourselves at the same time.

We’re talking about quality short term projects carried out by quality people – who’ve already shown a commitment to learning.

One of the pilots is being run here in Waitakere by your economic development agency, Enterprise Waitakere.

In Sovereign’s case, the investment in skills will quickly pay off. Bill tells me that Sovereign has two more boats ready to build here. One arrives in November and the other in March. A combined value of $NZ77 million within the first year of operations.

Total employment at Sovereign is expected to rise up to 300. In addition a lot of work will be subcontracted to other firms –building and strengthening employment opportunities in the region.

I am interested in the most exciting development ahead of us. The proposal to build – on the green space beyond the current facility – a marine industry precinct.

I’ve seen the plans and I know that up to 60 businesses have expressed an interest in joining the marine industry cluster that is proposed to be established here.

Other boat builders, sail makers, mast makers, rope makers and marine associated firms may all move here. Educational institutions have indicated a desire to take space – to teach marine industry skills on site.

The proposed area is not yet surplus to Defence needs. However, it is likely that this part of the base will become available by the end of March 2002.

The Ministry of Defence is certainly working to that timetable.

Mayor Bob Harvey and his council are doing all they can to facilitate an early start to this development.

It’s an exciting prospect – it’s a further advance in the fast-growing marine industry sector in New Zealand.

Presently the industry employs 6,000 people nation-wide.

Thousands of boats are produced each year – many for the local market – but increasing numbers (like the one we can see here today) are destined for far richer waters.

Boat exports by value have increased 330% in the last seven years. And there’s no indication this increase will slow down.

The industry will be taking advantage of customers coming to New Zealand for the re-running (and re-winning) of the Americas Cup in 2003 – not just new builds but international quality refits can be delivered by our marine industry.

There are skill and training issues, and infrastructure challenges – but the outlook is bright.

And the industry knows that in the Labour/Alliance Coalition Government it has a partner which is keen to help the industry take advantage of its competitive advantages.

Those advantages include: world-class builders like Alloy Yachts, McMillen and Wing, Cookson Boats, Marten Marine, Salthouse Marine, Ian Franklin Boatbuilders, and now NZ Yachts and Sovereign.

Maxwell Winches – one of the top three producers in the world of anchor winches.

Southern Spars - which I believe will provide the mast and rigging for nearly all the Americas Cup competitors.

North Sails – arguably the leading sail design and fabrication loft in the world.

And there are many others - in marine electronics, electrical systems, ropes, marine propulsion (e.g. Hamilton jets) and in marine design.

Finally a word about Bill Lloyd and his wife Mimi who have returned to New Zealand to live at Pauanui.

It’s great to have talented New Zealanders coming home, bringing their expertise and their reputation for success. And in a very tangible way adding value to the high-growth, high-value, and world-competitive New Zealand Marine Industry.

About a year ago the new Labour/Alliance Coalition Government launched the Ministry of Economic Development.

We said then that the New Zealand economy needs to be transformed.

We needed to broaden and deepen the export base of New Zealand. Create more successful exporting companies.

We needed to export more high-tech, high-skill, high-value products that the rest of the world wants to buy.

It’ll be good for New Zealand.

On behalf of the Government, I want to express my gratitude to everyone here who has made the opening today possible.

Transformation is taking more than creating a new Government Ministry, no matter how good that Ministry is.

It takes all of us working together in partnership as we have for Sovereign Yachts.

If we continue on this path I know we have an exciting and brilliant future in what is the best little country in the world.


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