Region has 'huge potential' - Clark
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says her home country’s high unemployment rate is hurting the people and growth strategies are needed, singling out Nelson as a leader.
The region was a prime example of what could be done to help the country out of its dismal unemployment rate, she said.
‘‘I think the unemployment being twice what it was will be hurting people and not just the unemployed, it’s the small shop keeper it’s the dairy owner, its affecting the economy.’’
New Zealand’s first elected female prime minister, now administrator of the United Nations development programme, was speaking to Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce members last night.
Afterwards Miss Clark told the Nelson Mail that New Zealand needed growth strategies to help the country out of its financial struggle. The reliance on commodity based industries wasn’t working.
‘‘In New Zealand we have the land and seas based industry, but we have to get the value off it. The commodity export story doesn’t do it for us. We need to add value through innovation - growth and innovation.
‘‘I think Nelson has been a good example of a region with smart strategies, with high value and high end tourism, wine, fine foods, the arts and health.
It was a great example of the economic wealth that could be achieved in other provinces.
‘‘Nelson has a lot of things going for it ... I think this region has such huge potential.’’
However, New Zealand was not alone in its financial difficulties, she said.
Many other western countries were also struggling, but she emphasised the key was putting in place growth strategies.
‘‘In my time as PM we used to really work with the regions to get them to develop what was really special about them, to get out and sell themselves and make their luck.’’
Her work in the United Nations was centred around giving countries the frame work to help themselves with good governance, she said.
New Zealand was lucky it had achieved a basic level of social protection to help residents during tough times, like high unemployment. But, she warned of looming food price increases, which she expected would get worse next year.
‘‘We have confirmation of a fast growing world population, increasing extreme climates and you put the two together and you have a bad equation.’’
Today Miss Clark travels to Christchurch where she will discuss disaster resilience at a lecture before she flys back to her New York base at the UN.
‘‘Christchurch was a terrible tragedy. It would have been an even worse tragedy if there had not been a lot of prior work,’’ she said last night.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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