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Key Says N.Z. State-of-Nation to Focus on Ending Job Decline

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, trying to reverse two straight quarters of falling employment, will present an agenda focused on job growth when he delivers a state-of-the-nation speech this week.

“We get it that jobs are important, that economic growth is important,” Key told Television New Zealand’s Breakfast today. New Zealanders want to be able to look after their families “and critical to that is having employment, so we are going to have a sense of urgency about some of the things that we’re doing,” he said.

Key said his speech on Jan. 25 will lay out plans to speed economic growth, which slowed to 2 percent in the 12 months through September. The government is betting that rebuilding in earthquake-damaged Christchurch will generate demand and jobs after the unemployment rate rose to a 13-year high of 7.3 percent in the third quarter.

“For us, 2013 is a big year with the economy at front and center stage again, along with Christchurch,” he said. “The government is going to move and act this year to ensure that New Zealanders have confidence that they are going to have employment.”

Key tomorrow will announce a change in his cabinet, sparked by the need to appoint a new parliament speaker.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter is expected to be named as new speaker, and former environment minister Nick Smith may be reappointed to the cabinet, according to TVNZ.

“They’re pretty well-educated guesses,” Key said.

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