That didn’t take long, John.
I know, the economic statistics aren’t pleasant.
Wellington’s economy is stagnant and our population growth lags behind Auckland’s and Christchurch’s. I did predict this in 2010.
The difference is that I don’t give up on us quite so quickly.
I don’t think political leaders should.
Not if we’re looking at a long-term view. Yes, the last three years haven’t been great, but then we’re not rebuilding from as large a shock as our brothers and sisters in Christchurch.
In fact, if you have spent any time here, and I suspect that since you work here, you would have seen that the ingredients that men like the late Sir Paul Callaghan believed could lead an export recovery are here. Innovative thinking, intellectual capital. We just haven’t nurtured it properly because we’ve entrusted same-again politicians to do the job.
But, Prime Minister, you’re right to at least raise your points, because at least we’ve kicked off a debate.
A debate about just what Wellington is, and should be in the next half-century.
This is not just a knee-jerk, defensive response from a little town so offended by comments made in Takapuna.
We recognize that there are problems, and since it’s election year, it’s our opportunity to fix them.
You’ll see from today’s reactions, in the video that Andy Boreham has filmed here, that there’s civic pride in Wellington, most likely because Wellingtonians see what I do: a more cultured, globally minded workforce that’s intelligent and savvy. We know Sir Peter Jackson’s not alone—because there are so many other innovators here, not necessarily in something as glamorous as film. They’re the backbone of our city’s economy.
You’ll also see that this identification with and sticking up for Wellington is the same energy that drives everything from trade to Olympic bids, more so than nation branding efforts have ever managed.
My plans, if elected, call for not only identifying and promoting those great firms that are innovative and socially responsible, but the use of my knowledge globally to do just what is needed for Wellington. Like the city’s next big firms—those who have Weta, Trade Me, 42 Below potentials—they’re all waiting there, their latent energies ready to be released. I see them regularly, and the region’s mayors and I can work with Grow Wellington to identify them with a new set of criteria, then market them properly.
It’s why in 2010, and again in 2013, I’ve made innovation a priority. Free wifi, which I proposed and we now have, was only a signal to say Wellington is open for business. The costs of extending it are relatively low. Pedestrianization, greening the CBD, and transportation improvements are needed—and we have the nous and the knowledge to get them done.
If prime ministers can lose faith in a city in three years, I believe we can begin rebuilding it in less time—since, as you’ve seen, we’re united. You’ve given us the perfect opportunity to prove our mettle.
And you know my record, Prime Minister. If I can work at the C-level with companies around the world, I can work with central government, whomever is in power, for a fair deal for Wellingtonians. We’re not asking for sympathy—we’re getting ready to show you what we’re made of.
That didn’t take long, John.