Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search - 20 June 2008 - 20 June 2008

A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully MP for East Coast Bays

Trans-Tasman Challenge Highlighted

The proceedings of last weekend's trans-Tasman Leadership Forum in Wellington were not open to the media and may not be reported. But what can be reported is the chilling comparison of per capita incomes presented to the Forum by NZ Institute Director Dr David Skilling. Dr Skilling, who according to reports is about to join the ranks of the nation’s economic refugees and depart these shores, has kindly given permission to re-produce his material.

Dr Skilling's comparison of New Zealand's per capita income ($40,021) with each of the Australian states serves to highlight the root cause of the serious exodus of talent from this country.

Per capita incomes in Queensland ($54,317) and New South Wales ($55,805), both popular destinations for departing Kiwis, are now very significantly higher.

Western Australia ($58,688), another popular destination for departing NZers is even further ahead. And the mineral boom in the Northern Territory ($78,527) has lifted the per capita to nearly double the New Zealand figure.

Even Australia's poorest state, Tasmania ($49,056) now enjoys a substantial lead over this country.

Equally revealing was a graph by Dr Skilling which compared per capita GDP, where Australia now enjoys a 35% advantage. While Australia has seen steady improvement over the past 20 years, New Zealand has bumped along the bottom of the chart.

The really outstanding performer in this regard has been Ireland, as the graph below will demonstrate. How interesting that the Irish formula has been competitive tax rates, major investment in key infrastructure, especially broadband, and major boosts for science, research and education - the same themes that John Key has been repeating endlessly over recent months.

Voting With Their Feet

Faced with these appalling and growing income disparities it will come as no surprise that the migration statistics released by the Government Statistician today show an even greater number of Kiwis voting with their feet.

A staggering 79,916 New Zealanders left for good in the year ended May 2008 – that’s 1,536 per week. A whopping 44,749 of them left for better prospects in Australia – that’s 860 a week. And on the evidence presented by Dr Skilling and the NZ Institute, how could we possibly tell them they should think again.

Political Correctness or Soft Bigotry

The distribution of information packs and badges from the Education Ministry to the nation’s schools over recent weeks raises interesting questions. The material is part of the Ka Hikitia programme allegedly designed to promote Maori achievement.

With badges sporting such themes as “I Love Maori Success”, there are two blindingly obvious conclusions we may draw: first, the Ministry of Education, which has spent $230,000 on the mailout and $56,000 on the badges, is clearly indifferent to the offence they give to schools that are under serious pressure to make ends meet. Second, they appear to be sending a subliminal message that Maori success is unexpected – surely an excellent example of the soft bigotry of low expectations.


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