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Development Ministry applauded, with misgivings

Media Release 29th February, 2000

New Economic Development Ministry applauded, with misgivings

The Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association says the new Ministry of Economic Development is neon bright in signalling Government's change of economic direction, but also contains a note of oversell about it.

"The EMA applauds the change of name for the Ministry of Commerce to the Ministry of Economic Development," said the association's chief executive, Alasdair Thompson.

"This is a strong and powerful new promotion of the direction and pace the Government expects from the public service.

"However the change of name, and the change in emphasis with the new organisation, Industry New Zealand, will not quickly turn around the attitudes and values locked into the mind set of the Ministry's personnel.

"Mr Anderton may be underestimating how long it will take for the Ministry to suddenly become expert in economic development after 15 years of taking a strictly neutral stance on it.

"The name change for the Ministry and the setting up of Industry New Zealand could mislead the regions on how fast the Ministry can build policy expertise for economic development.

"The extra $100 million eartagged for this will not make much of an impression once the bureaucracy has taken out its transaction costs.

"We have misgivings too over the representation nominated for the new Industry New Zealand organisation. This is to include local authorities, community groups, Maori representatives and the private sector. The very real risk is that hard nosed business attitudes and disciplines will be lost in such a mix though they are absolutely vital for long term business success.

"Mr Anderton's claim to be setting up a "jobs machine" for the regions is a neat metaphor, though from what we have seen so far it risks becoming a bureaucracy laden, taxpayer funded, make work scheme. We fervently hope this does not occur."

Further Comment: Alasdair Thompson tel 09 367 0911
09 303 3951
025 982 024

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