Editorial: Feeling for Oamaru

An Auckland business closed yesterday with the loss of 24,000 workers. The impact on the city is such a Government taskforce will be set up to help those made redundant find jobs, with special welfare teams appointed as families come to grips with their situation.

None of which is true of course, except the correlation of the impact in a town just south of here where 192 people out of a population of 13,000 have just lost their jobs.

And because this is provincial New Zealand and the numbers are small on a national scale the reaction from the Government will not be proportionate to the effect on the local population. Just imagine how the Government might react if 24,000 people did lose their jobs in one go in Auckland.

And that's unfair. Although predictable.

These are dark days for Oamaru. It's not just 192 people, it's effectively 192 families. And replacement jobs aren't that easy to find. Not without moving, anyway.

So a chain of events begins. House prices are affected, school rolls, the profitability of other businesses.

Meaning the challenge goes out to the district's leaders, to be innovative, creative and, actually, to lead.

It's a chance for someone to shine.

And, actually, for the Government to take a hard look at what it could do.

Sure, there are big pictures the Government is constrained by, like the global economic climate and the value of our dollar. But there are things it could do.

Relief packages might be in order. Special business grants appropriate. And wouldn't it be great for more government departments to base themselves in provincial New Zealand.

We know where there's a pretty large building in which to house one of them.

Another thing: The death of Sir Paul Holmes will be widely mourned, largely because people who never knew him personally felt they did. Because for so long they invited him into their living rooms each night.

And he was obviously good at what he did because they wouldn't have kept doing so otherwise. Such is the power of television.

Sir Paul deserves to rest in peace. At 62, he died too young. No matter what his job was.

The Timaru Herald