Southland has always been rightly proud of its economic reputation. We produce around 10 per cent of the country's exports with less than 3 per cent of the population, writes Eric Roy (National) in From the Beehive.
OPINION: That is just great when the market is strong, but when we are in a position like the current world recession we get our share of the reduced demand and prices.
The woes of the meat industry with the reported multimillion-dollar losses and the well-publicised parlous state of the smelter are examples of our exposure in global markets.
It is interesting many of those who demand some governmental response are beating a door to the Government about no mining or drilling in the south or in any way developing our vast resources.
Many also turn a blind eye to our labour shortage in Southland. Each year we have to bring in more than 1500 migrant workers, many from the Philippines, to fill the shortage in the dairy industry.
New Zealand has learned to our cost that governments trying to pick winners and tip the advantage in their direction, either through subsidy or preferential treatment, is folly. Not only does it distort the market, it raises the ire of the WTO and then there is the matter of paying for it.
But government does have a role and essentially this National Government is acknowledged as having a very good plan.
We have worked hard to get the cost of business down. Reforms to the Resource Management Act give a better resolution without compromising outcomes to the environment.
We have grandfathered GHG emissions for major industries; Tiwai is a major beneficiary.
Labour laws have assisted business - such as the 90-day trial - and we are investing heavily in infrastructure. The fibre-optic cable rollout is a good example.
With Tim Groser as Minister of Trade we have worked effectively to give New Zealand better access to markets. We now have more free trade agreements in place than any other country in the world. We are investing in research with New Zealand companies.
Primary growth partnerships are now in place worth more than $700 million.
We have just seen an annual increase in household wages and salaries of 2.3 per cent - nearly half the cumulative total of the past five years. Governments set the conditions, but it is up to all of us to work hard to maximise them.
» Eric Roy is the electorate MP for Invercargill.
- The Southland Times
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