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Baycorp Smartnet workshops - Anderton Speech

Hon Jim Anderton Speech Notes


9 am
21 November 2001
Christchurch Convention centre

Thank you for the invitation to open the Baycorp Smartnet Workshops.

I want to start with a few words about the value of events such as these.

When I became the Minister of Industry and Regional Development I started touring New Zealand’s regions.

I went to listen and to talk about the policies that the newly elected Labour/Alliance Coalition Government was implementing and how we could work with regions. These policies included, among other things, the Alliance policies of regional development partnerships, creating a national economic development agency, Industry New Zealand, and the Ministry of Economic Development.

I was impressed with the ideas and innovation I found. There were many people working in the area of regional development and many had been working for years to improve their local economies and create businesses and jobs.

I talked with local councils, iwi, economic development agencies, chambers of commerce and businesses.

What was immediately clear was that not only were key groups not working together they weren’t even talking to each other.

While some agencies, councils and iwi had made great progress many regions were in decline.

However, as soon as all the key players in towns and communities sat around the same table and started to share their ideas and experiences we were able to make progress.

Since these early beginnings nearly two years ago, 23 regions have signed up to the regional partnership programme run by the national development agency Industry New Zealand. These plans are blueprints for local economic development over the next ten years.

I have made 44 regional visits and in each visit I have seen strong evidence of New Zealanders committed to their local communities and regions.

I have lost count of how many workshops, meetings, hui, seminars and taskforces I have attended but I know they have been essential to making progress towards strengthening the economies of each of our regions in order to have a strong national economy.

Earlier this year regions made it quite clear they wanted a forum to share ideas with each other.

So next week in Rotorua I will be opening the largest Regional Development Conference ever held in New Zealand. It presents a major opportunity for advancing the cause of regional development as a cornerstone for New Zealand’s economic development.

Originally we aimed for 500 delegates. We passed this target with two and a half weeks to go. We now have over 550 attending and the conference dinner is fully booked.

Like these workshops here today the emphasis at the regional development conference is on relevant and practical participatory workshops and networking.

In looking through your programme over the next two days I can see why you are all here. The opportunities in each of the sessions are going to be of great value.

The emphasis on practical knowledge and use of new business technology is excellent and is similar to the hands-on approach regions prefer.

I also see that the morning and afternoon tea sessions have been accurately re-titled “networking coffee breaks”.

The theme for your workshops is Knowledge Navigators.

Knowledge has always been important to business. What is new is the value of knowledge itself as a commodity and the way in which we now communicate globally in an instant.

This Government is supportive of working with business to ensure New Zealanders benefit from the change to knowledge and how we access it.

The Government’s E-Commerce strategy identified some sixty actions and commitments for attention by government in partnership with the private sector.

E-commerce –which is about business doing business in a networked electronic environment – is critical for the development of the New Zealand economy as it puts New Zealand business on the front doorstep of the world.

Latest research for instance indicates that some 61 per cent of businesses now have a website, up from 33 per cent last year.

My colleague Paul Swain, Information Technology Minister is creating a partnership approach to e-commerce through the E-commerce Action Team (ECAT) and Regional E-commerce.

Being a country with a large number of small businesses presents opportunities for flexibility and adaptability.

We have, by international standards, a good level of investment by government in research and development at 54 per cent of total R&D.

Through TechNZ the Government provides the New Economy Research Fund, Grants for private sector Research and development as well as Enterprise Scholarships.

The Government is encouraging businesses to increase their research and development activities.

The ideas of New Zealanders will create the businesses and export earnings of the future.

I was pleased to announce last week that New Zealand was identified in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor as being one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world (18.2% of the adult population or 420,000 entrepreneurs).

New Zealand ranks second highest for the proportion of women entrepreneurs (44% of entrepreneurs), and the highest proportion of senior entrepreneurs (over 45 years). We also have a relatively high level of opportunity entrepreneurs (those who want to!) and relatively low level of necessity entrepreneurship (those who have to!).

New Zealanders are early adopters of advanced technology. Our cell phone usage is among the highest in the world.

We have been in the top 10 countries in the world for Internet access on a per capita base since 1993, and have the highest use of EFTPOS and ATM technologies in the world.

New Zealand is a country largely consisting of small and innovative businesses. Our companies have an international reputation as having a ‘can do’ attitude.

I believe that New Zealand’s future lies in our ability to be innovative and entrepreneurial.

I was recently shown some remarkable public opinion research.

It asked New Zealanders which factors they wanted New Zealand to be most known for internationally in five to ten years' time.

Two per cent opted for the best sports teams per head of population.

One in five said 'a clean environment.'

Nearly a third said 'a fair and tolerant society.'

And half of all respondents selected 'a society which thrives on knowledge, creativity and enterprise.'

The results of this survey are enormously encouraging.

Yes, we are proud of our clean environment.

Yes we want a fair and tolerant society, and so we should.

But above all, New Zealanders are accepting the challenge of building a society where we are known for our knowledge, our creativity and our enterprise.

In March of next year, in this convention centre there will be an innovation event to showcase and promote innovative New Zealanders. We will have many examples of successful kiwi ideas to encourage further innovation.

I am personally looking forward to the release of the Lord of the Rings.

I visited the set in August.

This film is state of the art technology, with special effects the equal of anything that’s ever been done before.

And it’s all being done on kiwi ingenuity.

I met Peter Jackson and the Los Angeles movie moguls who are under-writing the film.

And they told me that Hollywood would not have been able to make a movie anything like the one Peter Jackson is making in Wellington.

There are more than 140 people in an old factory making the props and costumes, and most of them have never worked on a feature film before.

One of the Americans said to me, ‘The concept of "impossible" is unknown to New Zealanders.'

We need to harness that creativity and unleash it in every industry, in as many companies and individuals as possible.

Wherever I go in New Zealand, there are creative people doing incredibly innovative things.

And we need to be prepared to have a go and test out the innovative ideas for which we are famous.

New Zealanders are the most creative and innovative people in the world.

And we can make the changes we need to make.

We can be world leaders as so many New Zealanders are.

I am passionately committed to this country's success and the Government will play its role in helping you to succeed.

Best wishes for your Smartnet Workshops today.

ends

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