PM talks of better times


DROUGHT and the Asian crisis have hurt Wairarapa people, but there will be improvements now the economy is growing at 3 percent, the Prime Minister, Mrs Shipley, said in Carterton yesterday.

Mrs Shipley spent the afternoon in Wairarapa yesterday, visiting businesses and Kuranui College.

Speaking at Harvest Electronics in Waingawa, Mrs Shipley acknowledged times have been tough in Wairarapa with the drought and some factories closing in the past two years. “Life is hard … You can’t go through one of the most serious economic downturns and expect to come through flying.”

She said, although lessening tariffs have resulted in factory closures in the vehicle and clothing industries, importing cheaper clothes and cars means there is more money in the pockets of New Zealanders. “You are not going to beat China on T-shirts. We decided to get on with it (lessening tariffs) because the quicker we do it the faster money gets into other parts of the economy.”

She said the economy is now growing at 3 percent and “that will start to effect provinces like Wairarapa”.

She said many clothing manufacturers have closed, but fashion designer Karen Walker, of Auckland, is crying out for seamstresses to help supply her fast-expanding market in America and Europe.

She said part of the Government’s job is to match the right people to that demand. Mrs Shipley said: “New Zealand’s future lies in defining products that command the top price in world markets.” She said Wairarapa does this very well with its wineries.

She was impressed with Harvest Electronics winning an exclusive vending-machine contract with Coca-Cola and said the Waingawa plant is part of the “new economy” and now wants to employ more graduates. “How smart can you get running vending machines in the United States, day by day, from Masterton.”

She said the company has proved Wairarapa is a good place for entrepreneurs to set up business and believes cheap land prices will help this. Mrs Shipley said National will not be having a “lolly scramble” of development promises before the election, or be singling out industries for Government investment.

She said the ACC reforms mean 50 percent of businesses now spend less on accident insurance and that has saved $40,000 for Masterton Hospital. This will be spent on health care in Wairarapa. “We’ve said you can keep that money, it’s not going to go back to Wellington.”