Hon David Carter
Minister of Agriculture
Speech to Horticulture New Zealand Conference, Rotorua Energy Events Centre
(Note: Owing to bad weather closing Christchurch Airport, Hon David Carter's speech was delivered by Simon Bridges, MP for Tauranga)
Good morning everyone.
It's a pleasure to be here to open Horticulture New Zealand's annual conference.
I'd like to acknowledge the directors of Horticulture New Zealand, growers and supporters of the horticulture industry.
Your theme this year is Capturing Value, Creating Profit.
These words encapsulate an increasing demand for high value produce that is backed by integrity and reputation.
Horticulture New Zealand knows this only too well.
You have challenged yourselves to become a $10 billion industry by 2020, through achieving growth by value and not just in volume. I commend you for this.
Like your strategy, this Government is seriously committed to accelerating growth.
We know to deliver greater prosperity, security and opportunity for all New Zealanders, we need to increase productivity and exports.
This is why we are working to rebalance the economy from the previous Government's 'growth based on consumption and debt' to National's 'growth based on investment, savings and exports'.
Your sector, like all the primary sectors, is critical to achieving this.
You make a huge contribution to the New Zealand economy - our fourth largest exporter earner.
But to grow further, we all need to do even better.
New Zealand needs a more competitive economy to grow. That's why the Government is building a more outward-looking economy, based on exports and savings.
We've already made good progress. We are building a competitive tax system, improving infrastructure, getting better results from education, boosting trade, cutting red tape, and building a more productive public sector.
We need to collaborate where we can, be innovative, build on our strengths and continue to earn our reputation for safe high-quality food, produced in a sustainable manner.
As a nation that trades internationally for its very survival, we certainly know the importance of market access for all of our exports.
When you look at your markets on a map, you guys touch every corner of the globe - a remarkable compliment to your industry.
Free Trade Agreements are reaping benefits now, and will continue to as tariff reductions are progressively implemented.
New Zealand has an ambitious trade agenda and we're not taking our foot off the pedal. Thanks to a Free Trade Agreement with China, it is now our second largest trading partner.
The Prime Minister's ambition, shared by China's leaders, is to double bilateral trade to NZ$20 billion by 2015.
We are currently in talks with India and hope to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement. The Prime Minister's recent visit there clearly demonstrated that good progress can be made.
Of course, we shouldn't forget our closest economic relationship is with Australia under CER.
The WTO's assessment of Australia's policy for the importation of apples from New Zealand is a significant milestone.
Despite continued rearguard action by Australian apple growers, I am confident of the assurance given by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, to the New Zealand Parliament that the 90-year battle will soon be over.
In Ms Gillard's words, "the umpire has spoken."
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of addressing the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute Conference.
The Institute is marking July as Biosecurity month. While I consider every month should be Biosecurity month, I support any effort made to raise the profile of this work and celebrate the successes achieved.
A great deal of noise is made about the risks of biosecurity breaches, but little is made of the success stories.
Only a couple of weeks ago, MAF made a significant interception at the border when fruit flies were brought in by an incoming traveller. Yet the news received scant attention in the media. A pity.
The fact is the international environment in which we trade and travel is changing and becoming increasingly complex.
New Zealand producers face many threats which is why our biosecurity system must adapt to change.
Our multi-layered system works on three fronts: working overseas to stop traders and travellers from bringing pests here; working at the border to identify and eliminate pests that do arrive; and working in New Zealand to find, manage or eliminate pests that have established here.
The Government is committed to making every step of the biosecurity system more effective and efficient.
Significant work is underway within MAF to deliver a new border system that will continue to protect New Zealand, while still facilitating trade and travel.
The modern border system is about collaboration across border agencies, and better use of information and technology to enable effective risk profiling and the targeting of resources to areas of greatest risk and importance.
The Government is spending $75 million to develop the first stage of a joint border management system (JBMS) designed to significantly improve border processing for New Zealand traders and travellers, and to make border agencies more efficient.
Stage one will include what is called the Trade Single Window (TSW), which will ultimately enable exporters, importers and others involved in trade to complete all their border compliance requirements online through a single point of electronic contact.
We are also changing the way we prepare and respond to biosecurity threats that arrive here by targeting activities at the areas that pose the greatest risk.
To do this, MAF is seeking greater industry and grower involvement in biosecurity preparedness and response.
There's no better example of this collaborative way of working than the recent Psa outbreak.
The discovery of Psa has had significant consequences for the kiwifruit industry.
The response demonstrates that industry and Government can, and must, work together to achieve the best possible results and limit the spread of this disease.
This sort of collaboration is where the proposed Government Industry Agreements come in.
GIAs are about strengthening New Zealand's biosecurity readiness and response, through industry and government jointly sharing decisions and costs when responding to incursions of harmful pests and diseases.
I want to commend Horticulture New Zealand on the practical and commonsense approach you, as an organisation, have taken to the discussions on GIAs.
Strengthened partnerships between industry and government will lead to better results in dealing with incursions of pests and diseases.
This is why the Government, in discussion with industry, has agreed to meet a minimum cost share of 50 percent for priority readiness and response programmes.
It's important to remember, though, that the GIA initiative is still in the consultation phase and I urge Horticulture New Zealand to continue your discussions with MAF and work through any remaining issues.
Before I leave the topic of biosecurity, I want to mention the Biosecurity Ministerial Advisory Committee. This is a group you may not have heard of that gives me direct, and completely independent, advice on the performance of our biosecurity system.
The reason I mention this is because Peter Silcock has been a member and a strong contributor to the committee since its inception in 2004. Peter, I want to publicly thank you for your contribution.
Finally, on the subject of government and industry collaboration, I want to mention an area of vital importance to all our primary sectors - R & D.
An initiative I'm particularly proud of is the Primary Growth Partnership. This government-industry partnership, launched just under two years ago, has so far pledged a staggering $477 million towards cutting-edge primary sector innovation.
This is the largest-ever funding injection in this space.
This Government is equally committed to conserving one of our greatest economic resources - our fresh water, or New Zealand's liquid gold.
As a country, we need to recognise the immense value of our water resources to ensure they are being managed effectively and responsibly.
I was delighted that Budget 2011 recognises the economic potential of water, with an Irrigation Acceleration Fund of $35 million supporting development of irrigation infrastructure proposals.
In addition, the Government will consider in a future Budget investing up to $400 million of equity in water infrastructure schemes.
The package acknowledges that sound water management is essential to provide for New Zealand's economic development and growth.
To conclude, I know I don't have to remind your organisation that New Zealand is highly reliant on the performance of our growers and farmers for our economic success.
Your industry has achieved significant growth over the past 25 years; growing from just $33 million in exports in 1975, to $3.3 billion in 2010.
You are to be congratulated for setting bold goals and working hard to achieve them.
I deal with many industry groups and I want to thank Horticulture New Zealand for bringing commonsense and co-operation to the issues we collectively face.
I look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship into the future.
I now declare your conference officially open.
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