Key speech a missed opportunity

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 08:00 26/01/2013

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OPINION: Was that it? The Prime Minister's quasi-presidential "state of the nation" speech yesterday was meant to send a strong signal of intent for 2013, letting everyone know what the ambitious and inspiring plan for the year was.

The PM dropped a hint at Ratana that there would be a significant announcement, so there was plenty of anticipation around what he had to say.

His three main themes were: A new apprenticeship scheme; making the process for building houses a bit easier; and that the asset sales that were part of the party policy in 2011 were, well, still going to happen. Eventually.

It was hardly the pep talk the country wanted and expected.

The apprenticeship scheme has plenty of merit, it just seemed the scope of it was limited. A $12 million extra investment is not a huge commitment by government standards and falls short of offering something meaningful beyond the people it helps.

Mr Key clearly has an eye on Christchurch this year. After almost two years of recovery, debate and planning on what to do with it post-earthquake, 2013 needs to be one of action.

The city will be in construction mode for years to come, but the action side of things has been too slow for many.

Much has been made of recruitment overseas for people to help with the Christchurch rebuild, while little is done to train people in New Zealand.

The sheer scale of the rebuild means we will need immigrants and a heck of a lot more trained workers.

Mr Key's speech was something of a missed opportunity. We are well into his second term as the nation's leader and he had the chance to really capture people's imagination with something more tangible and, possibly, bold.

Instead, it gave us more of a look at the largely hands-off approach that Key's Government is known for.

His approach to apprenticeships will gain approval, but it falls short on firepower.

There's no place quite like Wildbase. Formerly the wildlife centre at Massey, Wildbase is the first port of call for our injured and endangered animals and birds when they find themselves in trouble. It is the only facility of its kind in New Zealand.

In recent times they have been swamped with work mending and rehabilitating all the creatures that come through their doors. But they need more help. While the organisation is putting its hand out, such a vital centre needs central government funding to carry on its work.

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- Manawatu Standard

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