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Drop In The Bucket For Textiles And Clothing

Media release
11 December 2003

Drop in the bucket for textiles and clothing

The Government's transitional plan for the textiles and clothing industry does not show much commitment to innovation and growth, says Business NZ.

"The high-end fashion design industry stands to be gutted of cutting, machinist and other skills if the T-shirt making part of the industry founders under tariff reforms, so a transition strategy is clearly needed.

"There is a critical mass of skills that needs to be nurtured through the next five years or so, to avoid those skills being lost to the industry forever.

"The cost of maintaining those skills should be compared with the cost of paying the dole for those whose age, skill levels or location may otherwise make the unemployment benefit their only realistic option. "In this context a grant of $200,000 is a drop in the bucket - neither capable of supporting a growth and innovation strategy nor of capitalising on existing skills.

"The OECD recently criticised New Zealand for its 'passive' welfare system - in other words for failing to actively support people into productive work. Allowing clothing manufacturing skills to dissipate and skilled workers to simply move onto the dole is a pertinent example of this.

"Every local WINZ office would dish out more than $200,000 every afternoon. A $200,000 grant for the textiles and clothing industry is not enough to make a meaningful impact on regional development and future economic growth."

ENDS

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