Good morning everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here for the 2014 AusIMM New Zealand Annual Conference – my second since becoming Energy and Resources Minister.
The minerals industry plays a major role in New Zealand’s economy, contributing more than $1 billion to our GDP, producing vital inputs for industry, and adding significantly to our exports.
The minerals sector provides thousands of highly-skilled jobs, and workers across the petroleum and minerals sectors are paid on average $105,000 per annum – more than twice the New Zealand average wage.
National MP for Tauranga Simon Bridges today welcomed the decision by NZTA to clear all but $1 million of the $63 million debt associated with the Route K express bypass removed from Tauranga City Council’s books.
“This is great news for Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty” said Mr Bridges.
With Parliament wrapping up I will now be able to spend even more time in Tauranga working hard to share our message. And it is a simple one. Last election we laid out our four priorities for the term: responsibly managing the Government’s finances, building a more competitive and productive economy, delivering better public services and rebuilding Christchurch.
In this last week of Parliament before the Election we had a number of valedictory speeches from retiring National MPs, including Tony Ryall. As a new MP in 2008, Tony was a great help to me and I have learnt a lot from him sharing a constituency office in Tauranga over the past six years.
Regional New Zealand has led our country out of the global financial crisis with almost every region showing strong growth, and most with a lower unemployment rate than Auckland.
Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson-Tasman, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland all experienced growth above the national average in the five years from 2008. The unemployment rate in the South Island is just 3.9 per cent.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen — it’s a pleasure to be here today.
Before I begin, I’d like to thank Andrea Cave, Chair of the Aggregate and Quarry Association, and Gordon Laing, President of the Institute of Quarrying, for the opportunity to speak with you as industry leaders in the quarrying sector.