Business Growth Agenda driving jobs & growth

  • Steven Joyce
  • Bill English
Economic Development Finance

The Government’s comprehensive Business Growth Agenda is helping New Zealand build a productive and competitive economy to deliver more jobs and higher growth for people around New Zealand, Finance Minister Bill English and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce say.

The two lead ministers today released the 2013 Progress Report on the Business Growth Agenda, which is an integrated programme of work focusing on the six key inputs businesses need to succeed, grow and add jobs: export markets, capital markets, innovation, skilled and safe workplaces, natural resources, and infrastructure.

“New Zealand is one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD this year. Business and consumer confidence levels are high, with wages and household incomes growing. The Government is on track to return to surplus by 2014/15,” Mr English says.

“The BGA is all about creating the conditions for businesses to invest for jobs and growth, and for regions to take advantage of the enormous opportunities available to them,” Mr Joyce says.

“New Zealand’s regions have lifted New Zealand out of the global financial crisis – with the whole of the South Island having lower unemployment than Auckland and growth rates are strong in regions like Taranaki, the West Coast, and Canterbury.

“Increased exports and international linkages are vital for New Zealand. Key achievements in the last year include signing an economic partnership agreement with Chinese Taipei, the recent launch of the New Zealand Story, progress on the new $402 million New Zealand International Convention Centre, and significant policy and legislative reforms to grow New Zealand’s $2.6 billion international education sector.”

Mr English says New Zealand firms need access to capital to take advantage of opportunities to grow their businesses.

“Key achievements in the last year include the partial floating on the NZX of Mighty River Power and Meridian Energy, with the sell down of Air New Zealand underway,  the passing of the Financial Markets Conduct Act, and the launch of a new service by NZTE – Better by Capital – to help businesses access the right capital at the right time,” Mr English says.

Mr Joyce says significant progress has been made in building innovation in New Zealand.

“New Zealand has some fantastic innovative firms that are taking on the world – and we want to see more of them. We’ve established Callaghan Innovation, a new hi-tech HQ for Kiwi businesses. Business expenditure on research and development has risen by 23 per cent in the last two years to $1.2 billion, driven by the Government’s increased investment in R&D Growth Grants and R&D Project Grants. In the last week the Prime Minister announced $31 million over four years for repayable funding for start-ups,” Mr Joyce says.

“To succeed internationally, New Zealand firms need access to skilled people. Our tertiary system delivered a record number of qualifications in 2012, with the number of domestic students completing a bachelors degree up 23 per cent in two years.

“We’ve reformed industry training to focus on quality and results, and our apprenticeship reboot has got off to a great start with more than 8,000 trainees signing up since March, 67 per cent up on the same period last year. And we’re making the most significant reforms to our workplace health and safety system in 20 years.

The Government is focused on the responsible and efficient development of our natural resources. This summer will see one of the largest petroleum exploration programmes in New Zealand’s history, and we’re also making good progress in unlocking the potential of Māori land. Crown Irrigation Investments will support the development of proposals to maximise economic growth from irrigation.”

Mr English says a lot is being accomplished through the Government’s investment in infrastructure.

“We’ve announced the next generation of transport projects for Auckland, including the City Rail Loop and the East-West link. The Prime Minister announced last week that Transmission Gully will start construction next year.

“More than 320,000 premises are now able to connect to ultra-fast broadband. And we’ve announced the first 11 Special Housing Areas to increase housing supply – the most important way to get on top of housing affordability,” Mr English says.

Nearly half of the around 350 BGA initiatives have now been completed, with many more in the implementation phase. A report in the first half of next year will outline further progress and the future direction of the BGA.

“It’s noteworthy the Opposition opposes almost every single one of the initiatives in the Business Growth Agenda that would create jobs. They claim to be interested in job creation but their actions don’t match their rhetoric,” Mr Joyce says.

“New Zealanders can be confident that under National they have a Government wholeheartedly committed to investment, jobs and growth.”

The BGA Progress Report 2013 is available at:

Summary of Progress – Table


All actions

In Progress



Building export markets





Building capital markets





Building Innovation





Building skilled and
safe workplaces





Building natural resources





Building infrastructure





*Building Natural Resources workstream includes three new actions

List of key achievements

Export Markets

  • The launch of the first phase of the New Zealand Story
  • Further progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations
  • 33 trade missions since July 2012, including 17 Ministerial missions
  • Securing access to the India market for New Zealand lamb and avocadoes
  • The development of new multi-entry visas for Chinese visitors
  • Initiatives to make trade easier for New Zealand companies – including the Trade Single Window and New Assurances Project
  • Progress on the new $402 million New Zealand International Convention Centre
  • The signing of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Chinese Taipei
  • $158 million over four years as part of Budget 2013’s Internationally Focused Growth Package for tourism initiatives in emerging and existing markets
  • Policy and legislative reforms to grow New Zealand’s $2.6 billion international education sector

Capital Markets

  • Responsible fiscal management – the Government is on track to return to surplus by 2014/15
  • The passing of the Financial Markets Conduct Act – which will reduce costs, build investor confidence, and encourage participation in capital markets
  • The completion of two Government Share Offers – Mighty River Power and Meridian Energy
  • The allocation of $1.5 billion of new capital investment from the Future Investment Fund – allowing the government to control debt while continuing to invest in priority public assets
  • The launch of NZTE’s “Better by Capital” service – to help businesses access the right capital at the right time
  • KiwiSaver minimum contribution rates by employers and employees were raised to 3 per cent in April 2013


  • The establishment of Callaghan Innovation, a new hi-tech HQ for New Zealand business
  • $566 million over four years (an increase of $98 million in Budget 2013) for Callaghan R&D grants
  • $31 million for repayable funding for start-up technology companies, distributed by new private-sector led technology incubators
  • The passing of the Patents Act
  • Progress on innovation infrastructure, including Ultra-Fast broadband, and innovation hubs around NZ
  • The beginning of consultation on new tax proposals for R&D tax losses
  • $2.5 million over five years to increase the productivity of forestry
  • $3.5 million for nearly 300 students to work as interns in R&D companies
  • $278 million in the 2013 science investment round for 51 new projects, including in biological industries, high-value manufacturing and energy and minerals
  • The announcement of 10 National Science Challenges, with $470 million available over 10 years for the first three: High Value Nutrition, The Deep South, and Resilience to Nature’s Challenges
  • $59 million for Marsden Research projects

Skilled and Safe Workplaces

  • The delivery of more tertiary qualifications than ever before – 162,000 in 2012
  • Record number of bachelors degrees by domestic students – 25,400, up 23 per cent since 2010
  • The continued roll-out of the Youth Guarantee, improved educational results, and the extension to 18 and 19 year olds from 2014
  • Making level 1 and 2 foundation education fees-free for everyone under the age of 25
  • Support for AUT University to expand its Manukau campus and provide for around 3000 more students by 2020
  • Launch of the Vocational Pathways
  • $260 million for the University of Canterbury rebuild, and $19 million for CPIT to expand its campus and take on more trainees
  • The beginning of consultation on a new Tertiary Education Strategy, and proposals to reform university and wānanga governance to strengthen performance and keep our institutions internationally competitive
  • Significant reforms to industry training, including the creation of New Zealand Apprenticeships, a boost in funding, and an increase in educational content
  • 3,000 places in a new Māori and Pasifika Trades training initiative
  • The Apprenticeship Reboot scheme – 8,000 new apprentices since March
  • Introduction of the investment approach to the welfare system, to ensure support is invested where it will make the biggest difference
  • Significant changes to introduce an active, work-based approach to welfare, on the basis that most people can, and want to, work
  • The introduction of Youth Service to work with at-risk young people
  • The launch of “Working Safer” – significant reform of workplace health and safety
  • The introduction of the Starting-Out Wage on 1 May 2013, to make it easier for young people to get into employment

Natural Resources

  • Finalising the first stage of freshwater reforms to improve quality and increase value
  • The granting of approval for Bathurst Resources’ Denniston mine
  • The establishment of Crown Irrigation Investments
  • Proposed reforms to the RMA to improve planning, provide greater consistency, and improve Council performance
  • The creation of a new legal framework for the EEZ
  • A number of initiatives to improve Māori land productivity
  • Progress on reform of Te Ture Whenua Māori – the Māori Land Act 1993
  • A record oil and gas exploration season in 2013
  • The offering of five new minerals exploration permits in Northland


  • Announcements on the next generation of Auckland transport projects, including the City Rail Link, the second Waitemata Harbour crossing, the combined Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative, and East-West Link
  • The start of the tunnelling in the Waterview Connection process
  • Progress on the Roads of National Significance, including the completion of the first section of the Christchurch Western Corridor upgrade, the Causeway Upgrade Project on Auckland’s Northwestern motorway, and further steps on the Puhoi to Wellsford section
  • The commissioning of Pole 3 on the HVDC Cook Strait Cable
  • The launch of “Accessible City” – the Christchurch CBD Transport Plan
  • More than 320,000 premises are now able to connect to ultra-fast broadband
  • The Rural Broadband Initiative is now delivering improved broadband to 137,000 rural households
  • The announcement of the first 11 Special Housing Areas
  • Development and implementation of a comprehensive work programme to address housing affordability