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Manufacturing counts the cost of govt neglect

Labour
2000 web site“New Zealand’s already small manufacturing base is shrinking fast as manufacturers and workers pay the price of nine years policy neglect under National,” Labour industry development spokesperson Pete Hodgson said today.

Mr Hodgson was commenting on Job Attrition in New Zealand 1998/99 –an internal report prepared for the Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association by communications consultant, Gilbert Peterson.

Mr Peterson lists 53 manufacturing plants known to have closed their doors since mid-last year with the loss of 4826 jobs. He acknowledges the list is not exhaustive as it comprises only those closures or rationalisations which have been reported in the media, and does not include jobs lost through attrition.

The losses do not stop at manufacturing. Mr Peterson has listed another 22 mass redundancies in other sectors which occurred over the same 18-month period. This takes the total number of jobs lost to 7412.

“In a number of cases, our loss has been Australia’s gain as companies have relocated across the Tasman to be closer to the larger Australian market and to take advantage of the more supportive policies offered by the Australian Government.

“The economic cost to New Zealand of this loss of production is huge, and there are also huge social and human costs,” Mr Hodgson said. “Behind every job loss and every factory closure lies the distress of lives and livelihoods disrupted.

“Mr Peterson refers to a clear consensus in manufacturing circles that the New Zealand economy is not realising its full potential and suggests one reason for this is a lack of direction and vision from the Government.

“He is right. New Zealand’s approach to industry policy under National is desultory. We almost don’t have one. It’s sort of Trade New Zealand plus the BIZ programme - and it’s just not good enough, as the steady pattern of factory closures demonstrates.

“November 27 and the election of a Labour Government committed to playing a leadership role in the economy cannot come soon enough,” Mr Hodgson said.

Contact: Pete Hodgson, 471-9774 or 025-340-668

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