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News Worthy

News Worthy

7 October 2005
No. 48

Ripley and the Greens

Robert Ripley left his legacy with 27 Ripleys' "Believe it or not" museums worldwide and a syndicated daily cartoon. At the peak of its popularity the cartoon was being read by about 80 million readers.

The media speculate on the implications of a coalition or a lesser agreement between Labour and the Greens. "Believe it or not" the co-Leader of the Greens made a trip to Australia before New Zealand's election. On that visit he said then that he was opposed to apple and potato exports to Australia from New Zealand.

The issue of apple access to the Australian market is very much a hot issue. The Australian embargo on New Zealand apples goes back to 1921 and is the result of Australian grower pressure. New Zealand ranks first in the world in terms of tonnage per hectare at around 50 tonnes per hectare and the impact of apple exports to Australia would be significant for their local growers.

Australia has banned the importation of apples because of the presence in New Zealand of fireblight but the scientific evidence vindicated by a recent WTO ruling is that fireblight cannot be transmitted in mature apples free from leaves and branches.

The Government has been very reluctant to instigate WTO action against Australia.

Doubtless the views of the Green co-leader will fortify both Australian growers and the federal government to maintain their intransigent and unreasonable position.

Education and international qualifications

In past email newsletters 12, 30, 41 and 46 I have spoken about a range of education issues.

The recent resolution of the PPTA (the Secondary Teachers' union) to seek the scrapping of international qualifications such as the Cambridge (and presumably the international Baccalaureate) examinations is classic myopia.

Schools world wide are increasingly becoming self consciously international, especially in the curriculum because the current generation of young learners must become literally world citizens.

Our schools can no longer be parochial or insular about their curricula or about the performance levels of their students, who will find themselves in an international workplace alongside or in competition with, people from neighbouring countries, and where the jobs themselves (and the existence of those jobs) depend on international rather than national conditions. Their credentials must have international currency.

Australia and USA Remain New Zealand's Top Investment Partners

Australia and the United States of America continue to be New Zealand's top two investment partners. These two countries combined contributed 53% of New Zealand's total investment abroad, and 44.7% of foreign investment in New Zealand as at 31 March 2005. The United Kingdom , Germany and Singapore continue to be significant investment partners, although foreign investment in New Zealand by United Kingdom investors fell $7.8 billion at 31 March 2005, compared with 31 March 2004.

Total foreign investment in New Zealand at 31 March 2005 was $224.1 billion, up $21.9 billion (10.8%), from a year ago. Of this increase, increased investment by Australian investors accounted for $6.7 billion.


The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report for 2005 has ranked inadequate supply of infrastructure as the biggest factor holding back New Zealand's competitiveness.

The table below shows the position

These findings once again underline the critical importance of speeding up progress to address New Zealand's infrastructure deficit.

As a simple illustration the planned start in 2008 on the proposed tunnel under Victoria Park with completion by 2014 is too far off.

The existing viaduct across Victoria Park is a major bottle neck for SH1 and the motorway network.

By way of contrast much larger projects in Sydney and Melbourne are being completed in far less time.

Australia's largest roading project, the $2.5 billion 40km ConnectEast freeway in Melbourne started construction earlier this year. It had a one year consent process and is due to open in 2008, the same year Auckland's Victoria Park project is planned to begin.

Political Quote of the Week

"How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?" - Charles de Gaulle - French President 1962

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