Happy 2013 – I hope you and your family have had an enjoyable summer break. As we head back to work, it’s time to take a look at the busy year ahead of us. The Government has a strong plan and an exciting agenda for 2013. We’re building on the momentum of the last four years and continuing with our plan to take New Zealand forward.
Last week I delivered my first major speech for the year, where I set out the Government’s plan to encourage investment, strengthen the economy and boost jobs. The economy remains front and centre this year. In the face of on-going global uncertainty, we are committed to responsibly managing the Government’s finances to get back into surplus and reduce debt. We are also pressing ahead with a wide range of measures to build a more productive and competitive economy on the solid foundations of investment, exports and savings.Through our comprehensive Business Growth Agenda, we want to turn the New Zealand economy into a magnet for investment. Because the truth is, you only get jobs and growth in the economy when people invest in business.
In my speech I also announced a new programme to expand and improve the apprenticeship training scheme, including approximately $12 million a year in increased funding. There is a big opportunity in New Zealand over the next few years – particularly with the rebuilding of Christchurch – to train more New Zealanders in vocational careers that will set them up well for their future. As a result of our changes, and stimulated by the boom in construction and other trades that is already underway in Christchurch, we estimate that around 14,000 additional apprentices will start training during the next five years, over and above the number previously forecast.
On Tuesday Parliament resumes and I will be delivering my annual commencement speech to the House. I will set out more detail of our legislative agenda for the year ahead. I look forward to providing you with regular update son our progress towards a brighter future.