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News Worthy: Relentlessly ambitious for NZ

30 May 2008 - No. 249

Relentlessly ambitious for New Zealand

In the face of a growing exodus of New Zealanders offshore it is timely to reflect on why one should stay.

Do those who are fleeing share the migratory instincts of the godwit and do they plan to return?

Even in these unsettled economic times, with a Government seemingly blinded by ideological constraints and unable to pursue policies of advantage for all New Zealanders, the benefits of living in this country are manifest.

New Zealand has a reputation as a safe haven - That was a significant factor in winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup. We have no specific terrorist threat. It is recognised as a great country to bring up children. Witness the return of New Zealanders living offshore when their children reach school age.

The country is a food bowl - The world population was 5.3 billion in 1990 and it was projected to grow to 6.8 billion by 2010, an increase of 28%. Much of this population growth is focused on the big four – the so-called BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China.

There is (reflected in the current boom in global commodity prices) a growing shortage in food stocks. There used to be around a year’s supply. In 2003, food stocks were estimated at 133 days. Today, food inventories are down to an estimated 57 days, perhaps less.

In 2007 the Reserve Bank Governor noted that global demand for protein had been on a structural uptrend for some time. Rising income levels and emerging markets have led to improvements in diet incorporating more meat, eggs and milk.

The country has substantial agri-business expertise with a commitment to agricultural research and innovation.

The bounty of the ocean resource – the EEZ and Territorial Sea comprise an area of 4.4 million square kilometres with substantial in the fishing resource. The aquaculture possibilities are virtually untapped currently stifled by Government inaction.

Oil, gas and coal reserves – Government figures from early last year suggest there are gas reserves of about 2187 petajoules, but Todd Energy Ltd says another 400 petajoules have been added to existing fields such as Maui.

There may also be another 1600 petajoules in existing fields, taking the total to more than 4000 PJs, about the original size of the Maui field.

New Zealand has one of the world’s highest reserve of coal per capita.

Scenery – the natural beauty – research carried out by Tourism NZ consistently identifies the country’s landscape and scenery as the number one drawcard for international visitors.

More than 10% of the New Zealand’s landscape has been awarded World Heritage Status. New Zealand has three World Heritage sites, possessing what the World Heritage Convention states as “outstanding universal value”. The sites are:

- The Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand;
- Te Wāhipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area and
- Tongariro National Park.

So what initiatives should a Government pursue against the above background if it is committed to our future. That is not a difficult question.

An ongoing programme of personal tax cuts - The right incentives need to be put in place to encourage people to work and save and get ahead. Boosting after-tax wages will help stem the flow of New Zealanders overseas. It will help New Zealand keep the skilled workers we need to grow our economy and improve our public services.

Bringing discipline to government spending - The government should be just as careful with our tax dollars as households are with the weekly budget. We need to direct spending away from low-quality programmes that push up inflation, towards frontline services like doctors, nurses, teachers, and police.

Tackling bureaucracy and red tape - The number of bureaucrats in the core public service should be capped. Substantial reforms are required to the Resource Management Act and the Building Act to cut high compliance costs.

An unwavering focus on lifting education standards - National Education Standards in primary and intermediate schools need to be introduced to improve literacy and numeracy. Trade training in schools needs to be boosted.

Strengthen infrastructure to help this country grow - Ultra-fast broadband should be brought to businesses, schools, hospitals, and homes. Public Private Partnerships which are commonplace in many countries would boost investment in roads, electricity, and water.

The end result would be a stronger path of economic growth and opportunity with a wealthier future for all New Zealanders.

In the words of the songwriter “Don’t give up on us baby”.

Political Quote of the Week

The modern campaign headquarters...has an annex open any hour of the day or night, at an address starting with www.” New York Times - 19/10/99

Dr Richard Worth
National Party MP


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