Our year in review – executive summary
Some clear themes have emerged over the past year as we have put in place policies, projects and people to help us Grow New Zealand for All. We are operating in a fast-changing world and our economy must be able to respond as quickly. We need to be future-focused, innovative and collaborative to meet this challenge.
We are working across government to confront the impact of economic and social challenges resulting from the changing nature of trade, digitisation, automation, demographic shifts, and climate change. We are planning with our eyes on the future, anticipating the kinds of industries, work and products that will develop. We must ensure that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from economic growth. We must also look for the connections and partnerships in New Zealand and globally that will allow us not just to keep up with the changes, but ready to take full advantage of the opportunities they will bring.
MBIE is focused on creating a strong economy in which we utilise people’s skills and knowledge, our natural resources, and our financial and physical capital in a productive way. We must also balance our use of resources against future availability, to improve the wellbeing of current and future generations. And we have a role to ensure the right incentives are in place.
The type of growth matters. We want a more productive economy, but not at the expense of people or the environment. New technology and more productive use of resources can facilitate this new type of growth.
We know that prosperous and adaptable people, sectors and regions are important contributors to growth. So it has been a priority for us to make headway on resolving claims dating back to the Christchurch earthquakes. The Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service has the homeowner at the centre of everything it does in a transparent and open process to support them in their claim. Supporting families and both local and national responses following the mosque attacks in March was also a priority. Immigration New Zealand staff dealt directly with families and moved rapidly to grant visitor visas to more than 200 family members of victims. In the regions, we are backing initiatives that will support great business ideas and provide employment. Ten regional Māori business meetings held this year were to encourage innovators in Māori business, and the Hastings Development Hub is connecting young wāhine with job training and employers in Hawke’s Bay.
When people are skilled and engaged in safe and fulfilling work, they will contribute to economic growth. Fair and adequate pay is key to fulfilling and satisfying work, and pay equity is an important factor in achieving this. The Equal Pay Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament last year aims to tackle this issue. A wide-ranging programme on employment law reform and action to protect migrant workers and others from exploitation has been an important focus for MBIE. Funding is also being directed at skills training to meet labour shortages. A $2.8 million investment from the Provincial Growth Fund will help unlock the economic potential of the Manawatū-Whanganui regions by training skilled drivers and machinery operators. A new 10-year Health and Safety at Work Strategy is designed to reduce the high rates of death and injury at work. We are also making this a priority within MBIE and have dedicated teams addressing the gender pay gap and opportunities for progression.
Increasing New Zealand’s productivity, raising participation in markets, and making our prosperity more sustainable requires improvements in the domestic economy as well as increased international connectedness. This means we need informed consumers and businesses interacting with confidence. MBIE has a critical role to play in well-functioning markets, including finance, goods and services, and labour markets. The review of consumer credit law led by MBIE this year recommends changes to protect vulnerable people from predatory lenders. Tenants and landlords have also been supported to know their rights and responsibilities, including information about new home insulation standards provided in 15 languages to support our diverse communities. In the construction sector, we face skills and labour shortages, unclear regulations and flow of work, a lack of coordinated leadership, and a culture of shifting risk rather than managing it. The Construction Sector Accord between government and industry is tackling the challenges facing this sector.
Our environment is our economic foundation. It is part of every New Zealander’s identity, the country’s brand and te ao Māori. It also supports our major exporters who rely on the use of the natural resources. Our future growth will need to be more sustainable and support a clean, green and low-emissions economy. MBIE’s work in this area is to ensure that value is sustainably derived from the natural environment. This is where a lot of our future-focused work is happening. Our Just Transitions work is closely related to this. It involves planning with our communities – businesses, councils, Māori and households – how we will manage the impacts and opportunities brought about by a transition to a low-emissions economy. The role of the Future of Work Tripartite Forum is to identify the full effects of forces such as automation, artificial intelligence, and globalisation on the nature of work.
Economic growth needs to be based on a more diversified economy supplying goods and services to a broader range of international markets. Our prosperity depends on having a thriving business sector prepared to invest in new products and services, clever ideas and skilled and innovative people. MBIE’s role is to create a dynamic business environment fostering innovation and international connections. We are doing this successfully through our Innovative Partnerships Programme and Global Impact Visas, connecting talented people and creative companies with local businesses. Local firms have access to foreign government contracts through government free trade agreements supported by New Zealand Government Property and Procurement. At home, MBIE is connecting industry directly to researchers through the Science for Technological Innovation Mission Labs and exploring the use of digital service delivery to make it easier for businesses to work with government regulations.