HURRICANE WIRE PRODUCTS OPENING AUCKLAND

  • John Luxton
Commerce

Special guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today for the
opening of your new factory complex. Having grown up on a farm in the Waikato, I
have memories of Number 8 wire as a small boy, and some experience in using
Hurricane products over the years. Thanks to Fred Dagg, Number 8 wire almost has
a cult following. However, the contribution that Number 8, and other lesser
known wires, have made to the development of agriculture should not be
understated.

Wire was the basis for farm subdivision, which in combination with new
fertiliser use, brought more land into production through the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Latterly, as we have seen land use intensify and diversify, it has been your
company's products that have also enable and assisted progress. Deer netting is
a good example of innovation, which has allowed a whole new industry to develop.
So as well as its Fred Dagg uses, Number 8 has made a valuable, but perhaps less
recognised contribution to our country.

Hurricane Wire Products Role Hurricanes contribution over the years has been
great. It is one company typical of the development and success of
manufacturing. The company has been a part of the drive to stay on top in a
competitive and open market environment. This has been because of a commitment
to quality in product, management and staff, and your willingness to tackle the
challenges that lay ahead.

This commitment to quality was originally illustrated by Hurricane back in
the 1950s when you produced the first high tensile fabricated fence. And it
continues today with your accreditation of ISO9001 being the first for a wire
manufacturer in Australasia. Such a commitment has established your company as a
market leader not only in your industry but among the market generally. It has
also translated into significant improvements in your sales and profitability
over the years, which is recognised by both your parent company ABL and your
competitors.

To remain a market leader requires continued innovation and changes in how
one carries out business to meet the ongoing challenges of modern day commerce.
It means learning new skills to improve the workforce, be it how to use a new
machine or a computer programme. It means being open to new ideas and ways of
doing things. It means working on product improvements to keep ahead of the
opposition. It means new investment to upgrade plant, and management skill to
keep things going in the right direction. Your company is doing all these things
and it will enhance the long term prospects of Hurricane Wire Products.

The management, employees and all involved are to be congratulated for the
hard work which has gone in to achieving your goals and making this company such
a success. In today's world, Government is really like a larger version of your
Company. Government takes the people, the skills, the technology and capital
(your taxes) and tries to continually improve the quality of its own products
and services such as education, welfare, health and law and order. At the same
time it tries to control its costs, be innovative and better at doing its job.

Like you, we have been working hard in these areas too. We do not always get
it right, or to ISO 9001 standards in all our services, but overall they do and
must continue to improve. But we do not always get it wrong either. If education
is apparently failing, why do we have record levels of university graduates this
year? If health is apparently not improving, why is life expectancy more than
six years longer for today's New Zealander than when I was born? If the elderly
are apparently not being looked after, how come we spend a quarter of our total
budget on them and provide relatively the most generous superannuation scheme of
any similar country.

If police and Government are apparently not coping with traffic safety why
does the road toll continue to fall? It is important to remember that there is
always another perspective to that driven by the days headlines. Economic and
Social Goals Like your company, the Government also has goals. Our major
economic goal is to maintain sustainable economic growth of between 3.5 to 5
percent per annum and raise standards of living. A tough but obtainable target.
Raising the living standard improves wages and increases jobs. That is why
unemployment has fallen over the last five years. It makes people happier.

While the role of Government is increasingly now being focussed on issues of
social cohesion, which sees a focus on education, security, health and welfare,
these aims still have to be paid for. The real challenge of governments I
believe as we move into the 21st century is having a balanced and consistent
approach to both economic and social issues. That means keeping up with the
changes that are occurring out there in the market place, and not impeding the
market from working, while also making progress with the social agenda.

This government is doing just that. This government has a longer term
strategy and a clear vision of where we want to go. We want to continue to build
on the solid foundation to grow our nation into an even more successful one,
while taking this balanced approach. This is spelt out in the Government's Path
to 2010 and subsequent documents. They make good reading. It is also the
governments job to provide the framework within which commerce can operate.

The significant turn around in economic growth against the background of
declining GDP in the late 1980s early 1990s is an endorsement of the current
economic policy framework;

  1. fiscal policy commitment to keep government expenditure under tight control
    and repay debt;
  2. monetary policy commitment to control inflation:
  3. labour market flexibility:
  4. a microeconomic policy agenda designed to ensure further efficiencies in the
    economy:

Economic Results

This continued commitment to a stable and long term policy focus has been the
underlying force for recent economic improvements that have included sustained:

    increase in Gross Domestic Production, with 3.5% economic growth for the
    1995 year following 6.3% growth in 1994;
  • decreases in unemployment, down from 11.6% in December 1991 to 6.1% in
    December 1995
  • increases in the governments fiscal surplus; and
  • reduction in net foreign debt. By June next year we wont have any. New
    Zealand's mortgage with foreigners will be gone.

The manufacturing sector has been a significant contributor to this success,
and has played an important role in adding value to the economy. Manufacturing
was the first sector to initiate the export led recovery, and kick start the
economy. While politicians in Wellington may like to take all the credit for New
Zealand's economic success in recent years, it is the hard work of those at the
coal face, such as your company and others like you, who have really made it
work, and made New Zealand a better place for it.

Overcoming Constraints

However there is still work to do. The government is aware of recent
indications that suggest challenges still lie ahead for both the general economy
and for manufacturing. Of particular concern to some people has been the value
of the New Zealand dollar, which has adversely affected some exporters and
contributed to a deterioration in our balance of payments.

Having myself been involved in exporting for many years, I know the short
term impact that volatile exchange rates can have. It doesn't make things easy.
It can make life harder for exporters. It means exporters have to look at
practical ways to hedge against currency movements. It can also bring
improvement in processes and ways of doing things over time.

While there has been some reported volatility in export and confidence
figures, it is reassuring to note that the most pessimistic growth figure is
still about 2.5%, that confidence has rebounded in the latest Canterbury
Manufacturers confidence survey, and that Australian dollar value has recently
moved more in favour of New Zealand exporters. The balance of payments deficit
of today, while of concern, is sustainable as long as it finances investment in
future productivity and GDP growth.

The situation does, however, highlight the need to continue our drive towards
more efficient and innovative practices that keep us ahead of the rest and
sustain our competitiveness.

Stability

It is also important for all New Zealanders, including those involved in
commerce, that we continue to have stability in our government, stability in our
policies, stability in our economy. We all want and need some sort of stability
in our lives.

We cannot afford to go off track for short term electoral gain and loose the
benefits that have been hard won over the last 10 years. From a political
perspective, trying to deceive the electorate into believing that politicians
can create some sort of mystical easy life of the so called good old days where
everything is fantastic and there were never any problems, is dishonest. It is
wrong and it will not work. We are already seeing mortgage rates being
influenced by perceived political risk because some politicians are trying to do
just this.

It is interesting that when talking to the more mature in years we often hear
stories of how tough things were in these good old days. And the people who
appear the most critical of government seam to always want more of it.

Future challenges

New Zealand is faced by a world that continues to become more regionally and
globally intertwined in both an economic and political sense. This presents both
opportunities and challenges. That capital, those people and skills, and that
knowledge can easily shift from NZ business to other countries if we get the
wrong Government in New Zealand.

This magnificent new factory of yours show why NZ needs foreign and overseas
investment. It provides jobs and growth for our economy and allows us to pay for
our important social goals. Without it we would not be opening factories such as
this, wages would fall, unemployment increase again, social goals would be
frustrated. We would all have to re - experience the pain that we have already
been though. I don't believe this is what New Zealanders really want.

The challenge for us, therefore, will be to become an integral part of our
changing world and continue to enhance our competitive edge and standard of
living. For industry, the specific challenge will be to continue their
improvements in productivity and drive for innovation. I am, therefore, pleased
to see your investment in this new factory and plant as a step towards
positioning Hurricane for this future.

Finally ladies and gentlemen, congratulations once again for all your hard
work. I am thrilled to be here to celebrate the opening of this magnificent new
factory. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all well with your
endeavours as we head towards the challenges, the opportunities and the
excitement of the new century.