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National's kick-start won't work

Labour 2000 web site

National's policy to kick-start the economy is mostly about putting a stop to their craziest ideas and tinkering with a few laws.

That's Labour's response to Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford's leak on the likely form of National's forthcoming industry policy.

Labour industry development spokesperson Pete Hodgson said that reversing the "lopsided" parts of the tertiary education review and tweaking securities legislation to facilitate venture capital, was not anywhere near enough.

"National's long-awaited announcement which is already running well behind schedule, does not represent a new dawn. Rather it represents the ramblings of a spent government. Offering not to inflict serious damage on tertiary education is hardly progress. Similarly, if Mr Bradford thinks that a quiet word to the stockmarket and a minor law change is going to create an effective venture capital asset base in New Zealand, he is sadly mistaken.

"A small nation like New Zealand will not fully embrace an emerging knowledge-based economy unless the Government alters significantly its role in the development of enterprise. In the case of venture capital that means the Government must follow the lead of many other countries and enter the market directly, preferably in partnership with the private sector.

"At present New Zealand innovations are being funded substantially by foreign venture capitalists, because we have virtually none of our own.

"Labour has already announced policy in the area of venture capital which will see the Government as an active participant. Only one example of such participation already exists. It is the $5 million Greenstone fund. It has about a dozen clients, and it is full."

Mr Hodgson said that the difference between Labour and National on the issue of industry development policy was stark.

"Labour is adamant that New Zealand must take a full role in the knowledge economy. We announced industry development policy to that effect three months ago and further policy releases in science and tertiary education will together represent a determination to transform our economy.

"By contrast National is playing catch up, reluctantly. They are still wedded to the extremes of non-intervention. They signal support for New Zealand entrepreneurialship by ignoring it. Our best and brightest industrialists and innovators must not only fight for market share in the global economy, they must fight their own Government's indifference as well."

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