Workers the real heroes

JOHN TAMIHERE COLUMN
Last updated 05:00 04/09/2011

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I get sick and tired of the huge myth propagated by the top 20% of look-down-their-noses Kiwis.

So let's destroy some of them. If you were to look at the four biggest companies on the New Zealand stock exchange, three are privatised state assets.

The size and scale of the position they hold owes nothing to clever businessmen and everything to generations of investment from good taxpaying Kiwis who built them.

The three are, Contact Energy, Telecom and Air New Zealand. The fourth company is Fletcher Construction. It owes its scale to the New Zealand taxpayer over generations. The position it holds is underwritten, even today, by billions of taxpayer dollars.

As with the other three, it holds a significant position.

Are these captains of industry our champions or merely beneficiaries of significant easy pickings?

If you were to remove these top four companies from our stock exchange, you would wipe out 70% of it. On average it trades in one day what the Australian exchange trades in eight minutes.

If you were to break the world's money markets up into dollar values, and determined how much time in one trading day you would apply to the money markets in New Zealand, you would come to the princely time of 20 seconds for the New Zealand money market, when weighted against the rest of the globe.

We have to realise how irrelevant we might be. And the above commentary starts to point you in the right direction.

Even the mainstay of our economy, Fonterra, the dairy giant, has significant inbuilt subsidies working in favour of our agricultural sector. They are not fully integrated into the emission trading scheme, and everything from water supply to business structure, allowing for significant tax writeoffs, occurs in this sector. Having said this, all governments subsidise their agricultural sector, one way or another. And our economy would not exist without our farming sector.

In both Europe and the US, things are not good. It takes time for this to filter into our economy. Following the election this year, things will tighten up and get a lot tougher for people on fixed incomes and wage and salary earners.

So remember the people who keep this country running are those on fixed incomes, wages and salaries who work their guts out without having any ability to get tax write-offs and the like.

Spare a thought for the real workers.

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- Sunday News

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