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Anderton Warns Of Population Changes

Anderton warns of population changes

Jim Anderton:
Progressive Leader
Minister of Economic Development
4 December 2003

New Zealand's population is likely to fall, and we need to transform our economy to cope with the changes, Economic Development Minister and Progressive leader Jim Anderton said today.

Launching RADI, the new centre for excellence in wood processing in Rotorua, the Progressive Party leader said New Zealand's population would never reach five million unless there are significant changes in immigration and birth rates.

We will need to offer both competitive incomes and an attractive lifestyle to remain competitive with other developed countries.

"There will be a tremendous demand for skilled labour at the same time as our population begins to fall, because other developed countries will also be losing population.

"New Zealand will be competing against all other developed countries - just to retain our own best and brightest, let alone attract others. We will need to offer competitive incomes and an attractive lifestyle. Neither one on its own will be enough."

Jim Anderton said development of the wood processing industry through design and innovation can help New Zealand to generate much higher earnings.

"Wood processing could become our most valuable industry in fifteen years. But if we want to grow the industry, we are dependent on more innovative products being developed.

"Some of you will be aware that last week I entered debate with one timber industry figure representing saw millers. He described the government's support for, and development of, the timber industry as 'a necessary evil' which indicated hostility towards business.

"Two of New Zealand's competitors - Canada and Chile - export almost NO wood unless it has been processed. The challenge is for New Zealand's wood industry to transform itself to the same status as these countries," said Jim Anderton.

The RADI centre was established with support from the government's regional partnerships programme and wood processing strategy, in partnership with industry, the region and tertiary education institutions.

ENDS

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