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New Zealand can - and must - do better

New Zealand can - and must - do better

National Finance spokesman Don Brash says we must lift the country's growth rate if we are to keep our brightest and best young people living and working in New Zealand.

Dr Brash told the Auckland Rotary Club today that too many young New Zealanders are taking their training and flair to the bright lights of Sydney, London and New York, leaving New Zealand poorer in social and economic terms.

He blames falling living standards, brought on by an increasing lack of vision and leadership from the Government in the key areas of welfare, education, race relations and economic growth.

"The average Australian is better off by about $200 per week than the average New Zealander and, as a result, people can earn more doing the same job and get better healthcare in Australia.

"The decent society we have always enjoyed is slowly unravelling. New Zealand is at risk of ending up like Argentina perhaps or, worse still, like some of the troubled societies of the South Pacific."

Dr Brash said a slowing economy driven down by factors like the world economy, the drought and SARS was not an overriding concern; rather it was the long-term growth forecasts - an average rate of less than 3% over the next decade.

"That's probably why a few weeks ago the Prime Minister explicitly abandoned her Government's earlier goal to lift New Zealand's living standards back into the top half of the OECD within a decade - on present policies, there isn't a dog's chance of achieving that objective."

Dr Brash also warned that our living standards relative to Australia would slip further unless the growing trends of welfare dependency, a centralised, union-focussed education system, deteriorating race relations and isolationist foreign policy were reversed.

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