Why New Zealand Needs More Prosperity

Two significant events about this day thirty years ago:

  • NZ Dollar revalued to 106 American cents.
  • New Zealand records a balance of payments surplus of $1 million for the year
    ending March 1973.

"Unfortunately that is the last time New Zealand paid its way in the world,
we have had 30 years of living beyond our earnings, and what the kiwi dollar
buys now is only a bit more than half of what it bought in 1973. That's the
measure of our decline as a nation relative to the rest of the world."
"We've had Rob's Mob, Rogernomics, Winston's way, and the third way, and we
are still slipping down the slippery slope and other countries are getting
further and further ahead. "We were about 8th in the world in the early 70's. In
the 80's we were in the mid 20's . Now we're down the end of the 20's with
Turkey and Portugal.
Three issues show the kinds of choices we'll have to make about our
future.
GE Those who are arguing against GE have a different vision for New
Zealand from those who favour its controlled release. If we say no to GE outside
the laboratory, then we are picking a different path than if we choose to make
use of the new technologies - even though there are risks with that.
Welfare Taxing people to provide high levels of welfare spending is a
disincentive to staying in New Zealand, and to endeavor and enterprise
generally, and it can also foster a culture of dependency. But we have a
tradition of providing a hand up to the needy, and most benefits are not
generous. "The accommodation supplement costs taxpayers over $700 million a
year. But because it subsidises rents and therefore benefits both tenant and
landlord to reform it will require a lot of political courage.
Immigration if New Zealand could not stop its brain drain, we became
more dependent on the brains and capital we import from other countries. " We
are going to have to be willing to adapt our society to accommodate their
cultures and ways of life, and some of that process may be difficult and painful
for us and them. The more we depend on migration as a source of human and
financial capital, the more pressure we'll have to meet migrants' wishes or they
will not come here and we will have lost both ways."
Investors, both from New Zealand and off-shore will be looking carefully at
the outcome of those debates to see whether New Zealand was choosing policies
which made it an attractive place to invest. "I cannot and will not accept that
as far as New Zealand is concerned that this is as good as it gets. We can and
must for better for ourselves and for our children."
Rotary Club of Eastern Hutt 28 April 2003