OPENING OF WELLINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TERMINAL

  • Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I am honoured to be here today to officially open this new terminal for Wellington International Airport.

Firstly, let me congratulate the shareholders for having the foresight and commitment to make such a significant investment in their business and in this city.

This is a modern and aesthetically pleasing building that will be well received by domestic and international travellers alike.

What we see here is a far cry from what I first remember of Wellington airport.

For years the first welcome an air visitor to Wellington had was an old draughty airplane hangar. I remember that the Southerly used to roar right through it.

The first change to that picture came with competition on the domestic routes.

That competition, which my party supports and fosters, resulted in a brand new Ansett terminal as well as an upgrade to the Air New Zealand terminal.

Now we see this final step in that process, assisted greatly by the introduction of private capital and management skills to the business of running an airport.

I'm sure Wellingtonians will be very proud of the new terminal which adds yet another string to Wellington's bow.

The city and it's managers are in a phase of excellent progress that is fast making Wellington the envy of other cities throughout the country.

I note that in 1996 a Consumer Magazine survey ranked Wellington City Council the worst local authority in New Zealand.

But this year the council was ranked "significantly above average" for its community facilities and its relationship with the public.

That's a whole heap better than just three years ago and again I'm sure Wellingtonians will be proud of such progress.

As Mayor Mark Blumsky has said, I don't think Wellington has ever been so vibrant and robust, and the future looks brighter still.

This type of positive growth and development in Wellington has seen it promoted to the fourth most popular destination in the country. And such growth has made the development of new facilities like this new terminal, imperative.

The number of international aircraft landing at Wellington International Airport has increased by 54 per cent since 1995, bringing 400,000 overseas visitors to the capital each year. This increase equates to an estimated $96 million of new money spent in Wellington City and 3194 additional full-time equivalent jobs.

With the inclusion of domestic visitors Wellington airport hosts a total of 3.8 million passengers a year. And the forecast is for 4.4 million visitors by 2004 and 5.2 million by 2009.

That's a tremendous boost for the city. But this type of growth also brings the inevitable challenges that must be managed carefully.

Given the foresight shown by the development of this marvelous facility, I am confident the city and it's people will meet these challenges accordingly.

This Airport and this new terminal will always hold an extraordinary place in New Zealand history.

It was over the future of this Airport that high drama lead to the breakup of the National - New Zealand First Coalition Government.

It will always have enormous political symbolism as a turning point in the direction of our country.

From the time of the Coalition breakup, most commentators have predicted that the downfall of the Government was imminent. They also predicted that because of the complexity of the minority Government we wouldn't be able to make progress.

I'm pleased to say they got it wrong. I'm prepared to predict they will also be wrong concerning the election outcome as well because just as this Airport has made progress so has New Zealand made great progress under National.

Amid all the scorn and the negative politics of others, we've:

- continued tariff reductions in key areas to allow New Zealanders to buy a greater variety of goods introduced parallel importing - resulting in cheaper quality goods
- partially deregulated the postal industry which has increased volumes and service
- successfully lead New Zealand out of the Asian crisis
- implemented electricity reforms to bring prices down
- implemented the BIZ Info programme and centres to help small businesses
- expanded our housing initiatives for low income earners
- expanded the successful Family Start programme put more social workers in schools
- introduced new goals for literacy and numeracy to lift education standards
- invested $50 million to get more IT in schools
- introduced competition in ACC, saving businesses $100 million
- lowered taxes and introduced tax credits for working parents
- lowered inflation and interest rates that is so important for families and jobs

While others have been negative, we have remained positive. That's what New Zealanders really care about.

These are the things that make a positive difference to people's lives. Prosperity, security, success, and a positive outlook for the future.

National has provided this.

This Airport company comes to this important day with a similar reputation. It is a winning formula and I'm sure it will bring pleasure to the customers and community that use this airport and to the shareholders of the company.

I wish them safe travelling and future success and I formally declare the new Wellington Airport terminal officially open.