Chamber welcomes PM's visit

John Key
John Key
Visits to Dunedin this week by Prime Minister John Key and two of his ministers had proved an overwhelming success, Otago Chamber of Commerce president Peter McIntyre said yesterday.

Speaking after Mr Key had addressed more than 70 chamber members at a breakfast meeting in Dunedin, Mr McIntyre said many ratepayers did not realise the sorts of innovative businesses which were operating in the city, employing local people.

Having the prime minister visit those companies and talk about them at a national level was invaluable.

"We need to make sure the rest of the country knows about our innovation, our education facilities and our exporters. Having the prime minister coming to visit Dunedin means national media focus their attention on our city and our businesses.

"But also, his visit shows that Mr Key is interested in what happens here."

Earlier in the week, Local Government and Primary Industries Minister David Carter met the chamber and members.

Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley also visited the city, meeting members of the Dunedin Wood Energy Cluster.

The cluster is made up of forest owners, wood-fuel producers, boiler suppliers and large heat users who had made the switch to wood.

Offcuts from forest harvesting were turned into pellets and chips by wood fuel producers who supplied them to local businesses and other heat users like schools and hospitals.

"I'm impressed," Mr Heatley said after his visit.

"The cluster is a great demonstration of collaboration across a supply chain with benefits for the local economy, heat users and the environment."

Mr Carter said in an interview he was impressed with the efforts made by the chamber and its members to present to him success stories from the south.

Coming from Canterbury, Mr Carter was aware of the nervousness the Christchurch rebuild was generating among some in Dunedin, particularly about the potential loss of skilled trades people. However, he believed there were opportunities over a long period that Otago chamber members could benefit from.

In his speech to chamber members, Mr Key urged business leaders to remain positive about the future of the country and its prospects of returning to surplus.

In a potted version of world events, the prime minister said Europe was "stuffed, and that's the technical term", and that while Germany was held up as the most successful European country its debt to GDP ratio was 81% compared with New Zealand's ratio of 25%.

Mr Key picked the United States to outperform most expectations.

He described Australia as "one giant mine" with a two-tier economy - one booming and the other not.

Asia was set to keep growing.

"This is Asia's century. It has half the population living there and China has a massive amount of cash. Even if the global economy slows further, China will bring money home and keep growing."

China was important to New Zealand on many levels, Mr Key said.

"We sold more to China in the eight hours you were sleeping last night than in all of 1972," he told the audience.

Indonesia was another Asian country with a growing middle class that was starting to consume more protein.

"They drink two drops of milk per person a week. Imagine if they doubled that to four drops or pushed the boat right out and had half a cup on their Weetbix.

"You should be optimistic about New Zealand's future. You have companies right here in Dunedin to market to a worldwide customer base," Mr Key said.

 

 

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