COMMENT:

The coalition Government is helping business modernise our economy to be fit for purpose for the 21st century.

This means being smarter in how we work, lifting the value of what we produce and export, supporting the environment, planning for future generations and giving everyone a fair shot at success. It means making sure that all hard-working Kiwis share in the rewards of economic growth.

Most New Zealanders know we cannot go on relying on a volatile mix of population growth, an overheated housing market buoyed by speculation, and exporting raw commodities as our growth drivers.

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As we transition away from this, there may be bumps in the road. But we are well placed to handle that.

We have a strong surplus that is set to grow in future years. We have low debt relative to the rest of the world, and the fundamentals fuelling the economy are strong. Last week, the Reserve Bank said growth will still average 3 per cent over the next three years. And Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said recently: "I think the business environment is good right now."

Our plan to become more productive is built on getting our infrastructure sorted. This year, and for the next 10 years, we will invest more than $4 billion getting roads, rail and coastal shipping humming. We are sorting out Auckland's congestion to save the $1b loss in productivity it causes each year.

We are investing to improve the skills of our workforce so that workers can adapt to changing workplaces. New programmes like our Mana in Mahi/Strength in Work apprenticeship scheme will get young people off the dole and support employers with the costs of giving them an apprenticeship to help them grow their business.

Other policies supporting small and medium enterprises to manage costs include greater access to training programmes, e-invoicing and cutting compliance costs.

New Zealand was built on innovation. The best path for us to get richer as a country is to invest in new opportunities and find better ways of doing things. The coalition Government is supporting business to lift research and development investment, with $1b set aside in the Budget for R&D tax incentives.

Our bold goal for New Zealand to have a net zero emissions economy by 2050 is essential as we face up to climate change. This goal creates economic opportunities. The business community is alongside us, with 60 of our biggest firms forming the Climate Leaders Coalition. The $100 million Green Investment Fund and the One Billion Trees initiative are key parts of this work.

We are also committed to ensuring no one is left behind in our economy. That's why we have put in place the Families Package and lifted the minimum wage. It is why we have a $1b annual fund for regional infrastructure and economic development opportunities.

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There are challenges in the world that are outside of New Zealand's control. That is why we are running a surplus and being prudent with our debt levels. We are also diversifying our export markets to create new opportunities for our exporters.

We are committed to working with business, workers and communities to build a stronger, more productive economy that delivers the quality of life that all New Zealanders deserve.