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Heather Roy's Diary

Heather Roy's Diary

At election time there is much discussion of economic statistics, which often seem boring and remote from everyday life. However, a recent report from New Zealand accounting firm KPMG has changed all that in a flash and banished forever accountancy’s reputation for dealing with boring subjects.

KPMG partner, Bernard Salt, has produced a report on population changes in New Zealand, Australia and the United States, and some tantalising extracts from the full report have been posted on the KPMG website. The conclusion that caught the newspaper headlines was that New Zealand suffers from a gender imbalance in the 30-something age group. At age 32, for example, there are 32,000 Kiwi women but only 29,000 Kiwi men, which is a highly unsatisfactory state of affairs. According to the report a woman of 32 has as much chance of finding a same-age man as a woman of 82. Geri Halliwell (also known as Ginger Spice from the Spice Girls) sings “It’s Raining Men”, but in New Zealand we have a man drought.

It is instructive to ask how this situation arose when there are slightly more male babies born than females. KPMG explains that the gender imbalance is due to selective migration. The girls and boys go on their ‘OE’ in roughly the same numbers, but the girls are more likely to return and the cumulative effect over years can be large. It has always been the case that men were the first to move to pursue new economic frontiers and it remains the case today. I’m told that to be a woman in Alaska today is to be a rare and precious thing. In years gone by the saying was “Go west young man”, with the implication that it was safer for the girls to remain in the east. When questioned on the heavy male predominance at the frontier, Mark Twain was once asked what men would be like without women – his reply was “scarce”. New Zealand has become an exporter of people and that has produced a female predominance.

The problem, put simply, is that the opportunities in other English speaking countries are greater than at home. The only way to reverse this situation is to improve our relative economic performance and thereby encourage our boys back.

Improving New Zealand’s overall economic performance has not been much discussed at this election, with the attention focused on electoral bribes being handed out with gay abandon. We have seen a proposal to remove interest on student loans, but there has been surprisingly little discussion as to how many students is realistically appropriate in New Zealand. We have over 400,000 people undertaking some form of tertiary study and therefore eligible for a student loan, but you can’t get a carpenter for love nor money. The frivolous nature of many courses has become staple newspaper fare, but the trouble is people have stopped paying any attention because they have given up hope that it’ll ever be better. Yet clearly this is a problem that needs to be addressed if New Zealand as a whole is to move forward. In this and countless other issues, bribes are being offered to individuals with little consideration of what is in the country’s best interests.

ACT has a record of supporting policies that improve the economy and provide jobs and that’s what we need to do to avoid migration loss with the gender imbalance it creates.

That’s why I’m in Parliament, to create a New Zealand where my children can pursue their chosen careers without having to permanently leave the country.

Campaigning Tools

I have traveled around the country campaigning with many of our local candidates in the last few weeks. It is always interesting to see the ideas candidates come up with. One pamphlet that caught my eye was this one put together by ACT Clutha-Southland candidate, John Fraser.

Political Economics Made Simple (The Two Cow theories)

Christians :You have two cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbour.

Socialists :You have two cows. Government takes one and gives it to your neighbour.

NZ First :You have two cows. Don’t know where they are. Make a speech blaming someone’s incompetence. Break for a social hour.

Labour :You have two cows. Neighbour has none. Government taxes your cows, forcing the sale of one. With this tax government buys your cow and gives it to your neighbour.

National :You have two cows. You have two cows. You have two cows – why has nothing changed?

Greens :You feed your two cows GE free corn – but worry about nuclear fallout on your cow’s paddock and quarantine the milk. You ask the public for donations of goats milk.

Progressives :You are given two cows. Government seizes both and provides milk for you.

ACT : You have two cows. With tax relief you buy a bull and build a herd. Jobs now available. Wages go up. Now cows for everyone.

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