Key’s start of 2013 speech

gave today his first major speech of 2013. Some good sections to it, and a fairly major policy announcement. Extracts:

So here in New Zealand we have to be a magnet for investment.

That’s investment by individuals and small businesses as well as big businesses; and it’s investment by people from overseas as well as Kiwis.

The more investment we get, the more jobs will be created.

That’s not to say there won’t also be jobs lost.

In any three-month period in New Zealand, between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs disappear, and between 100,000 and 200,000 new jobs are created, as businesses start up, expand, contract and close altogether.

The labour market is a very dynamic place.

But the only way net new jobs can be created is by private investors putting their money into businesses in New Zealand.

Governments can encourage investment but they can also discourage investment.

A government can load up big costs and uncertainties onto business.

It can make people unwelcome because they are considered to be the wrong nationality to invest here, or in the wrong industry.

And it can lock up the resources of the country.

That would certainly discourage investment.

The fluid nature of the labour market is worth reflecting on. We are decades beyond the jobs for life NZ once had. Jobs get created and disappear on a daily basis. And it is investment that leads to more jobs.

But the big changes we are making this year are to industry training and, in particular, to apprenticeships.

Under Labour’s wasteful management, up to 100,000 people a year listed as being in industry training were in fact “phantom trainees” who achieved no credits and in some cases were no longer alive.

Heh.

1. From 1 January next year, we are going to combine Modern Apprenticeships and other apprenticeship-type training under an expanded and improved scheme called New Zealand Apprenticeships. These new apprenticeships will provide the same level of support, and the same level of subsidy, for all apprentices, regardless of their age. Fewer than half the people doing apprenticeship-type training are actually funded as proper apprentices, through the Modern Apprenticeship scheme, and we are going to change that.

2. We are going to boost overall funding for apprenticeships. The current top-up for Modern Apprentices will be redistributed across all apprentices, regardless of age, as an extension to their learning subsidy. In addition, overall subsidy payments will be increased by around $12 million in the first year, rising over time. Increased funding for apprenticeships will allow industry training organisations to invest in the quality of education for apprentices, lower fees for employers and encourage growth in the uptake of apprenticeships.

3. We are going to boost the educational content of apprenticeships. At a minimum they will require a programme of at least 120 credits that results in a level four qualification.

4. We are going to set clearer roles and performance expectations for ITOs, and give employers other options if their ITOs don’t perform; and

5. To lift the profile of, and participation in, apprenticeships, we are going to give the first 10,000 new apprentices who enrol after 1 April this year $1,000 towards their tools and off-job course costs, or $2,000 if they are in priority construction trades. The same amount will also be paid to their employers.

The Govt estimates this will lead to 14,000 more people doing apprenticeships in the next few years.

We need more houses built in New Zealand, at a lower cost.

That means we need more land available for building, more streamlined processes and less costly red tape.

This doesn’t require the Government to spend a lot of money. We are already a huge player in the housing market and I’m very wary of spending more of taxpayers’ money.

But there are plenty of private sector investors who want to invest in housing – if only we can remove the roadblocks that are slowing down the process and driving up costs.

It’s ridiculous, for example, that developers can wait six to 18 months for a resource consent.

It’s ridiculous that we allow councils to demand almost anything as a condition for the consent.

And it’s ridiculous that we allow them to charge whatever fees they want.

Unless these sorts of issues are dealt with there won’t be more affordable housing built.

Labour’s so-called ‘plan’ to build 100,000 houses doesn’t do anything to fix the actual cost of building – so will either fail miserably, deliver dwellings that people don’t want to live in, or require massive taxpayer subsidies.

It’s dishonest and it doesn’t stack up.

Far better to reduce the cost of housing for everyone, than introduce Housing Lotto when 10,000 lucky people a year get a taxpayer subsidized house by having their names drawn out of a barrel. And yes – that is their actual policy!

… overseas investment in New Zealand adds to what New Zealanders can invest on their own.

It creates jobs, boosts incomes, and helps the economy grow.

Overseas capital can make things happen here that wouldn’t otherwise happen, grow businesses that wouldn’t otherwise have the means to grow, create jobs that otherwise wouldn’t exist, and pay wages that are higher than they would otherwise be.

So it’s sad to see the Labour Party that was such an advocate of trade and investment in the past somehow turning into the number one defender of Fortress New Zealand.

Indeed.

So as you can see, we’ve got plenty on.

But I can guarantee you one thing – Labour will oppose almost all of it.

And the few things they might find to like, Russel Norman or Winston Peters will vehemently oppose.

And that’s the irony of the New Zealand Opposition in 2013.

They criticise the Government for being too hands-off; and yet between each of the Opposition parties they oppose every hands-on change we make to encourage investment, growth and jobs.

Tax changes – they oppose.

Major roading projects – they oppose.

A free trade agreement with the US – they oppose.

RMA changes – they oppose.

90 day trials – they oppose.

Work expectations for beneficiaries – they oppose.

Oil and gas exploration – they oppose.

The Hobbit legislation – they oppose.

A national convention centre – they oppose.

Every piece of legislation or policy we have developed to encourage growth and jobs they have opposed.

And that’s because there is only one type of activist government they know – the big-spending and big-borrowing kind that we know so well from the Labour Party and the Greens.

It’s called “chequebook activism” and New Zealanders know it well because they’ve seen it before.

As a country we are still paying for it – literally.

It means big, wasteful and unaffordable spending, charged to the taxpayer’s bill. And it means Labour and the Greens meddling and choking off private sector investment.

Good to see the PM pointing out the inconsistency. There is a balance to be had when going on the attack. You need to both talk up your plans, but also point out the alternative. The announcement on apprenticeships was a nice anchor for it.

It will be interesting to see what Shearer announces tomorrow apart from the fact Labour will be “hands on”!!

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