The forum, organised by the Govern' />

Business leaders and politicians meet in Parliament today to find ways to lift New Zealand's economic growth.

The forum, organised by the Government-sponsored Growth and Innovations Advisory Board, follows on from the much-publicised Knowledge Wave Conference on innovation last year.

Board chairman Rick Christie said the gathering of 65 political and business heavyweights came at an appropriate time as there were signs the country's recent growth spurt could be running out of steam.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen has recently floated the idea of a "social compact" between business, unions and the Government to increase the prospects of growth.

Under such tripartite deals in other countries, workers and bosses have agreed to levels of pay increases in exchange for productivity gains and policy directions of the Government.

Dr Cullen, who is attending today's gathering, refused to comment on his ideas for the forum.

Mr Christie said the board had discussed the potential for a social compact but had no fixed idea about how it might work.

"There is no doubt that is a way forward ... whether we could do that here and how inclusive it could be is something we need to think about further. I have no fixed ideas on it ... but really there is some form of social compact in things like these [the forum]."

Mr Christie said recent criticism of the Government's commitment to pro-business policies and the effectiveness of forums was unfair.

At the forum, working groups would talk through themes identifying opportunities to increase innovation, productivity and growth.

Many of the present policies intended to stimulate growth have been aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses, but the forum is tilted towards large companies such as Telecom and Fonterra.

Mr Christie said this was recognition that it was vital for large businesses to thrive as well.

"While New Zealand has relatively few companies of global scale, its largest firms can contribute significantly to economic performance through their growth in terms of profitability, job creation and exports."

Although big business has normally been opposed to centre-left governments, due to policies such as higher taxation, Mr Christie said there was a recognition that they had to work together.

- NZPA

Herald features:

href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?reportID=57032">Catching the knowledge wave

Entrepreneurs

Global Kiwis

Proud to be a Kiwi

Our turn

The jobs challenge

Common core values

Related links:

The Government's innovation strategy

Catching the Knowledge Wave - official website