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Budget 2003- More progress - Jim Anderton Speech

Hon Jim Anderton
Minister for Economic, Industry and Regional Development
15 May 2003 Speech notes

Budget 2003- More progress

Mr Speaker

I want to begin by congratulating Dr. Cullen for yet another highly positive budget, his fourth of behalf of the centre left coalition elected in 1999.

My party, the Progressives, above all else seeks a government that facilitates job creation. We want New Zealand to be a place where every young person is in work, training or education with no exceptions. This is central to our goal of both economic and social well-being.

The best way of ensuring that the dividends will be there to pay for the investment in better job opportunities and employment growth, is to first ensure that the government's finances are in order.

Budget 2003 shows Dr. Cullen is more than delivering on the fiscal front. No one can reasonably doubt his sound handling of the government's finances.

Dr. Cullen's management of the economy and the sound state of the government's finances is why this coalition can also take so many other measures to improve social well-being.

I would have to go back to the 1935-1949 Labour government to find a government as progressive this coalition.

The Budget builds on the framework established to support and promote future economic development.

It encourages the development of new ideas and their commercialization.

Budget 2003 measures reflect a whole-of-government approach to sustainable economic growth and innovation. Measures in many portfolios focus on improving skills and talent, our international connections and our innovative capacity.

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A GIF package of nearly $400 million over the next four years is supported by sound and smart investment in strategic industries.

Combined with existing economic, industry and regional development funding of around $112 million, it’s a powerful package for sustainable growth.

Initiatives in education, skills training; in research, science and technology; environment, tourism, and immigration all contribute to lifting New Zealand’s development path.

We have set aside funding of $110 million over four years to respond to the recommendations from the four sector taskforces established for Biotechnology, Design, Screen Production, Information and Communication Technologies.

It is an important commitment for the future of these industries and for the public private partnerships at the heart of the Growth and Innovation Framework.

We chose these sectors for particular focus because they have enormous potential as industries in their own right, and just as importantly, because they influence and provide significant inputs into other key industries.

We challenged industry sector leaders to map out a growth path for their sectors. To their credit they responded realistically in terms of what they are asking government to do, and provided a vision and strategic plan for the ongoing development of their own sectors.

The coalition’s funding shows that we are serious about playing our part in supporting these sectors by enabling implementation of their long term strategies.

Trade development initiatives valued at $73 million over four years will help implement the coalition's longer term trade development strategy.

Budget 2003 allocates $13.8 million over four years (and $2.5 million per annum for the following years) in support of World Trade Organization negotiations and bilateral closer economic partnerships and free trade agreements.

A further $1 million a year, or $4 million over four years, is provided to establish beachhead offices in selected offshore markets. New Zealand exporters can use these facilities as a base to develop trade opportunities, (eg Denmark furniture manufacturing opportunities).

$1.9 million a year for the next three years has been allocated to the sustainable cities work programme, a priority initiative under the Sustainable Development Programme of Action announced earlier this year.

There are a range of other initiatives including, increased funding for business incubators, and support for tourism promotions. These measures add weight to the strong portfolio of business, industry and regional assistance programmes the government has put in place since 1999.

For the Progressives, Budget 2003 demonstrates significant gains across many portfolio areas. We contribute every day to coalition policy. This is a centre left coalition. That is why Labour and the Progressives can work so effectively together.

Progressives are working to get good things done for New Zealanders. That is why we campaigned to get into this coalition government and why we are happy to be here.

We know that the only way to get good things done for New Zealanders is by working cooperatively, doing our homework and making rational, convincing cases for the programmes we support – not standing on the sidelines just wishing things were better.

We don't want to be an irrelevant Opposition Party, like ACT, which has been in Opposition since the day it got into this House and where it is destined to stay forever as the party of endless press statements and alarmist speeches.

It is true that the Progressives' Manifesto commitments go further, and sooner, than our coalition partner. That means sometimes there are robust discussions within the coalition over timetables for getting people out of poverty, introducing four weeks annual leave for workers and other action to advance work and balanced family programmes.

Sometimes we'll not get what we want.

If the Progressives alone set the policy of government, our priority would be to ensure that no individual tertiary student would face a fee increase.

We recognize that this would require either a reduced government surplus or cuts to other programmes of less priority to us than education.

But overall, there isn't any doubt that the Progressives are constructively participating in a coalition administration, which is delivering real, significant and tangible benefits to New Zealanders across a wide range of portfolio areas.

- An extra $85 million for industry training schemes (our aim of 100,000 in training by 2005 is likely to be achieved and even more is possible),
- Another $56 million towards getting all youth under 20 into jobs, education or training by 2007 (our aim is for 2005),
- More and better state housing,
- More school children will be receiving free doctors visits,
- By 2005, all under 18 year olds and the elderly will get cheaper if not free primary health care,
- A package to address drug abuse and youth suicide. This includes the Progressive cornerstone commitment of taking effective action on drug abuse,
- The extension of Project Early to Auckland - further support for early intervention programs,
- Boosted funding for early childhood education.

These are all victories, not only for the progressive Left, which the Progressives represent, but for all New Zealanders.

But we'll never be totally satisfied. There is always more to be done.

For the future, we want every working age New Zealander who is able to work to be in employment, education, or training. We are working for more housing development to eliminate substandard housing in regions where it has been a blight on our social fabric for too long. We want to remove financial barriers to tertiary education. We want more done to make the tax system progressive, while lowering effective marginal tax rates for low and middle income working families.

The Progressives are in this coalition because constructive engagement in government is the best way to achieve our vision of social and economic well being, powered by job rich regions and smart, healthy, safe communities.

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