30 October 2013
Speech to the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Good afternoon, it’s great to be here today.
I want to thank the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event.
And I want to congratulate Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown on her recent re-election, as well as Fran Wilde and all the other successful local body candidates in the region.
I’m sure we will continue the constructive relationship we enjoy with Wellington City and the other councils in the region.
Last week I talked to Celia and it’s good to hear the Council is planning to boost the resources it puts into economic growth initiatives and partnerships.
The Mayor was good enough to run me through the quite extensive series of initiatives they are looking at, ranging from housing upgrades through to a new interactive film museum.
She also tells me the Council has reorganised itself to more effectively engage with business, including an “Open for Business” programme, which I’m sure will be welcomed.
Ladies and gentlemen, nine days from now marks five years since the National-led Government was elected – November the 8th, 2008.
Much has happened over that time.
14 October 2013
Speech to RSA National Council
Good evening and thank you for inviting me to be here.
It’s always a pleasure to address the RSA National Council and to thank you for the work that you do.
New Zealanders are extremely grateful for the contribution our veterans have made to our peace, our freedom and our security.
Ex-servicemen and women hold a special status in the hearts of New Zealanders.
As Prime Minister, I’ve been privileged to have met many veterans and hear many tell their stories – stories of bravery, courage, and sometimes sadness too.
New Zealand owes a great debt to our veterans.
The National-led Government is committed to honouring their sacrifice.
When I spoke here last year I outlined the Government‘s response to the Law Commission review of the War Pensions Act.
I spoke about a package of measures worth $60 million over five years.
They included new legislation for veteran entitlements and an increase of 5 per cent in the War Disablement Pension and Surviving Spouse Pension, on top of the usual annual inflation adjustment.
I’m very proud to be delivering those changes.
27 September 2013
New Zealand’s Statement to the UNGA General Debate
Mr President. Congratulations on your election to the Presidency of this General Assembly. You take the reins at an important time. We wish you every success. You have our support.
The recent events in Kenya, Iraq and Pakistan show how troubled the world can be. We commiserate with the governments and people of those countries and extend our deepest sympathies to those who lost family and friends in these tragic incidents.
For most of us, born after the Second World War, the United Nations has been at the centre of our conception of how the world organises itself.
But the reality of the UN can be quite challenging.
It’s the one place where the countries of the world meet, talk and try to find solutions to global and regional issues.
Sadly, some of those discussions can become so arcane they are sometimes quite removed from the issues they claim to be addressing.
That is a concern especially for small states for whom this Organisation is so important.
Even more sadly, the UN has too often failed to provide solutions to the problems the world expects it to resolve.
The gap between aspiration and delivery is all too apparent, as the situation in Syria has again so brutally reminded us.
But any failures of this institution are less failures of the Organisation than they are failures of us, its Member States, and those who have the responsibility of leading those states.
There would be no dreadful humanitarian situation in Syria if Syria’s leaders had upheld the commitments made to the international community and to the Syrian people when Syria joined this organisation and ratified the Human Rights Covenants.Read full article
20 September 2013
New Zealand and the Asia experience - Speech to Asia House, London
Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here in London and here at Asia House.
This a good opportunity to reflect on the changes in New Zealand’s economy and society over recent decades and how that has increasingly involved Asia.
Of course, New Zealand’s relationship with the United Kingdom remains fundamental.
Queen Elizabeth is Queen of New Zealand, as well as the United Kingdom.
An independent judiciary, trial by jury, freedom of speech, the election of Parliament, our system of public administration, and our most popular sports – rugby, cricket, football and netball – all come from Britain.
No foreigner could ever come to our shores and understand who we are as New Zealanders without reference to our British antecedents.
But they also could not understand New Zealand without reference to Māori culture, history and values; to our Pacific community; and, increasingly, to our place in the Asian region.
There has been a profound change in New Zealand in only half a lifetime – demographically, socially and economically, and also in the way we view ourselves and present ourselves to the world.
Forty years ago, New Zealand showed a largely white face to the world.
Today, however, a much greater proportion of the population identify as having Maori, Pacific or Asian ethnicity.
Forty years ago, our economy was heavily reliant on Britain, which took the bulk of our lamb, cheese and butter.
But when Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973 a century of reliance on our best customer came to an end.
Today our two biggest export markets are Australia and China.
China, in particular, has grown rapidly as a trading partner, with our exports to that country almost quadrupling over the last five years, and with China becoming our biggest source of imports.
Our connections with Britain remain strong and secure – but our future prosperity and security is intimately linked with our near neighbourhood in the same way that the UK and Europe’s prosperity are linked.Read full article
10 September 2013
Making Progress: The Christchurch Rebuild
Thank you all for being here today.
I want to particularly thank the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event.
None of us will forget three years and six days ago – in the early hours of September 4th, 2010 – when Canterbury was shaken by the first of what would turn out to be a series of strong earthquakes.
The most disastrous, of course, was the earthquake of 12.51pm, 22nd of February, 2011.
I don’t think anybody who was in New Zealand that day will ever forget what they themselves felt as the earth shook, or the images they saw in the media.
These were dark days for the people of Canterbury, and the people of New Zealand.
As a former Christchurch lad, who grew up here, went to school here, and started work here, it was shocking to see first-hand the huge impact of the earthquakes.
During the afternoon of 22nd of February, I flew to Christchurch and saw the destruction for myself.
I visited again many times in the days and weeks that followed, and met many residents, emergency staff, community leaders and others who were doing the very best they could to respond in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances.
I think we can all agree the community showed great resilience, and rallied around to support one another in the aftermath.
At this point, I want to publicly acknowledge and thank retiring Mayor Bob Parker for the contribution he made to both the emergency response and subsequent rebuild efforts.
Bob’s leadership at a time of great uncertainty will not be forgotten.
The relationship between central and local government is a close one, and we look forward to working constructively with the new Mayor and Council following next month’s local body elections.
And I want to acknowledge the leadership role members of the Christchurch business community, many of whom are here today, played in the aftermath.
You showed great resilience and flexibility to have kept your businesses operating, and employing people, during that difficult period.
And I also want to acknowledge the tenacity of the people of Canterbury, and their continuing patience as the recovery builds momentum.
I also want say at the outset that the disaster and its aftermath have resulted in quite natural and understandable frustration and unhappiness from some people.
That is to be expected given the scale of the dislocation and destruction, and the complexity of the recovery and rebuild.
Things can get very tough when people find their lives turned upside down, their houses in disrepair, their community services disrupted, and simple tasks like driving across town becoming difficult and time consuming.
The Government has had to make some difficult decisions; at times trade-offs have had to be made, and in a rebuild of such scale and complexity, there won’t always be perfect outcomes.
But I can tell you that we are fully committed to the rebuild, and good progress is being made.