Economic Development New Zealand Conference Opening Address

  • Fletcher Tabuteau
Regional Economic Development

Economic Development New Zealand Conference

Opening Address

Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau

Thursday 31 Oct 2019

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E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā rau rangatira mā tēnā koutou katoa

Te tumu whakarae me te roopu poari ō EDNZ, ngā mihi kia koutou

E ngā iwi o Te Tau Ihu tēnei te mihi ki a koutou katoa mō tēnei wā

No reira ngā mihi nunui mō tēnei rā

He waka eke noa

A warm Pacific greetings to you all

We are in this canoe together

It is an honour to be here with you in beautiful Blenheim for the opening of the 2019 Economic Development New Zealand conference.

I’d like to acknowledge the team at EDNZ, Pam, Susan, Mark and others who have, yet again, put together a fantastic programme based on the theme this year of Inclusive Growth.

And we have a good number of our PDU team here, and I’d like to acknowledge their efforts.

Moving from 16 million per annum to 1 billion creates huge pressure on a system.

You have all seen first-hand the difficulties, the challenges of delivering a programme that is meaningful, robust and proves itself fiscally with every decision made.

But you all here today have seen what has been delivered. And I’m proud to say that the original vision of EDA’s being part of an essential part of the PGF roll out.

Inclusive growth is about growth that supports all people from all parts or our kiwi society. It is about acknowledging and working with the concept that there are direct causal links between macro and micro economic settings and economic growth.

Fundamentally it is about equality of opportunity, inclusiveness is a concept that encompasses fairness, making opportunity available to all who can demand (the economic definition) participation, are essential ingredients of a successful inclusive growth strategy.

In the short run, governments can and do use income distribution schemes to ameliorate impacts on the poor, but transfer schemes designed to promote economic growth cannot be an answer in the long run. The inclusive growth approach takes a longer term perspective as the focus is on productive employment rather than on direct income redistribution, as a means of increasing incomes for all stakeholders in our society.

It is Tokelauan language week.

The theme is “Mastery of traditional knowledge, skills, expertise and leadership help shape the future.” This theme is apt for this conference because if we truly believe in inclusive growth, we must tap into the traditional knowledge, skills, expertise and leadership right across all our demographics within our regions.

I am proud to be opening your Conference, because you have already seen what good economic development agencies can achieve with a concerted focus of collective minds.

I understand you will also hear this morning from the Minister for Economic Development, the Hon Phil Twyford who will talk a little more about that.

For me I’d like to focus this government’s contribution on the regional aspect of economic development and where we see incredible potential in provincial New Zealand.

By hosting them EDNZ conference in the regions, collectively, we underscore or underline as it were the importance of provincial New Zealand with respect to the country’s overall economic development potential.

In June this year, the Government launched our first wellbeing budget focusing on policies that improve wellbeing and lead to outcomes that not only meet the needs of our present but also focus on our future generations.

The provincial growth fund is a joint initiative between New Zealand First and the labour Party and was borne from necessity and of course the coalition negotiations. This Government was determined to make a meaningful difference.

It makes me incredibly proud to be part of a coalition government which, like your conference theme, has recognised the importance of and commitment to ‘delivering inclusive growth.’

The complexity of economics and social issues facing many of our regions are, too deep for individual organisations or people to unravel on their own.

It is a genuine pleasure for me to see the inclusion of both Maori and Pacific perspectives in the line-up in this year’s conference.

The Provincial Growth Fund and the work of EDNZ are truly about the people. It was always my dream to ensure that together we are helping people make a difference for themselves and for our regions.

Economic Development Agencies are a critical part of this work. It bears repeating again and again, that you all with your on the ground knowledge and experience is critical in affecting good decision making, ensuring that New Zealander’s tax dollars are invested wisely.

And invested wisely it has been. The funds which many of you know are difficult to get, have been invested in a diverse and empowering way. From water, rail and roading infrastructure. From horticulture to agritech, and advanced bio technologies. From driver training courses, to pastoral care, and work ready initiatives. It has been the work on the ground in the regions that has made these investment possible.

Let me be clear, it is the people such as yourselves, it is you all who are living and breathing every day, you regions’ challenges and opportunities that mean we can unlock potential, faster and with more certainty than ever before.

To that point, the funding mechanisms have meant that monies this government put aside for Capacity and Capability Development have not necessarily gone through EDA’s themselves, so it’s important for me to point out that this is not a reflection on the EDA’s or the amazing people running them, rather it highlights sometimes that bureaucratic decisions have to be made on the ‘how.’

We have some amazing people in our provinces at this event today, and we are excited about the future opportunities we are all working towards.

Now, I’ve promised the leadership here I will keep it short and sweet this morning. You all have a long few days ahead, with some exciting speakers.

And so I close by again thanking you all for your efforts. For your understanding of who it is you represent here today. I thank you for the passion you bring and the amazing discipline and desire you bring to your work.

This conference is about inclusivity. It is about making sure that all things are possible to those who would only put their hands up and say we have something to offer. Your part to play in connecting, unlocking and enabling, cannot be overstated.

So, without further hesitation I’d like to thank you for having me here to make the opening remarks and I wish you all a fantastic conference and another amazing year ahead.