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Kiwis say 'show us a different ladder'

19 April 2004
Kiwis say 'show us a different ladder'

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says a new survey confirming New Zealanders question the value of conventional economic growth shows the Government should abandon its obsession with climbing the OECD 'ladder'.

The report by the Government's Growth and Innovation Advisory Board, released yesterday, revealed New Zealanders are most passionate about quality of life, education, the environment and the public health system. One participant in the survey described conventional ideas of 'growth' as a "necessary evil".

"Measuring our success solely in terms of Gross Domestic Product clearly doesn't reflect the values that New Zealanders hold," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party Spokesperson on Sustainable Economics.

"This survey shows one reason why New Zealanders think politicians are out of touch. Parliamentary debates on the economy are invariably expressed in terms of how to lift New Zealand up the OECD ladder. But New Zealanders don't want the stress on their family lives, the traffic congestion, the destruction of our unique environment and the social inequity that such a 'great leap forward' would bring.

"One of the countries with the fastest economic growth at present is China. Their growth is based on forced labour paying workers a dollar a day for 16 hours in appalling conditions. It is based on prison labour and environmental destruction and New Zealanders don't want a bar of it. "New Zealand's success has been realised through ingenuity and inclusiveness, not exploitation and exclusivity. Our ongoing challenge as a society is to apply these number-eight-wire, all-together attitudes to maintaining our lifestyles without destroying our unique and beautiful land.

"This report is an opportunity for individual New Zealanders to recognise that they are not alone in feeling that there is a better way. It confirms that 'Green' values are not fringe attitudes, but mainstream concerns.

"New Zealanders want true prosperity - a real quality of life rather than a higher place on a meaningless economic league table. Happily we are able, and increasingly willing, to take the measures needed to realise and maintain that goal.

"Often it is about what should grow. We can opt for growth in public transport rather than more motorways and congestion; we can choose renewable energy rather than more mines and dammed rivers; we can export high-value organic food rather than chemical-doused fodder. We can base our prosperity on skills, creativity and adding value, rather than bulk commodities and holes in the ground. New Zealanders just have to recognise that only electoral bravery and political will stand in the way of what they really want.

"The Green Party's policies would put these Kiwi values into practice," said Ms Fitzsimons.


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