Parties join forces against 'crisis'

NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 15:56 12/10/2012

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NZ First, the Green Party and the Labour Party have joined forces to investigate New Zealand's manufacturing "crisis".

The parties, claiming the National Government is in denial about problems in the sector, opened a parliamentary inquiry at an EPMU job summit today.

However Prime Minister John Key has written off the summit as political grandstanding.

"It's a political stunt isn't it. We're the Government and they haven't bothered inviting us," he said.

Two members from each party will look at the issue, and there is potential they will get an independent chair.

According to Labour leader David Shearer, the National Party is employing "ostrich economics", by burying their heads in the sand.

"Manufacturing is in a crisis right from Bluff to the top of the North Island," said Shearer.

"We've had 40,000 jobs lost over the last four years."

He said manufacturing generates as much money for the country as tourism and agriculture put together.

According to Shearer, the Labour Party has already asked Key to hold a Select Committee inquiry but he refused.

Key said Shearer, Peters and Norman were trying to manufacture a crisis for New Zealand.  

"I mean we had a job summit, we invited the unions, we invited businesses, we invited other political leaders."

He said manufacturing jobs have been rising over the last few years, and though it is tough for some businesses with the high exchange rate, it was not fair to say New Zealand was in a crisis. 

Shearer said he welcomes members from the Mana Party, the Maori Party and United Future to join them, but said if other parties really cared they would have been there today.

"We are seeking the best ideas to help resolve and take forward our manufacturing sector."

He said he wants the people with ideas to meet with the panel to discuss them.

Green Party leader Russel Norman said it is critical this inquiry takes place because manufacturing is so important to the economy.

"We want to find out the problems and what is actually going on...but we are also interested in solutions."

He said the group is looking to find a broad consensus on how to deal with the problem.

The enquiry will take submissions until the end of November, then have hearings in December, with a view to put out a report next year.

Shearer said hopefully the report will change the Government's mind, and may form the basis for members' bills.

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