By Winston Peters
The Reserve Bank has apparently done its job and inflation is sitting at one per cent.
So, why are many New Zealanders scratching their heads about why they still can’t make ends meet?
The answer is simple. The Reserve Bank’s legislated responsibility is to keep inflation at between one and three per cent. That focus is important when inflation is rampant but does not address today’s world of recession, deflated markets, business closures, wage cuts and job losses.
New Zealand First has legislation written and ready to go that will widen the focus of the Reserve Bank. It would equip the Reserve Bank to better manage the problems facing our economy such as our seriously overvalued dollar, which is hammering exporters and stunting job growth. Under our plan, the bank would also have to take both social and economic targets into account as well as inflation. We believe the economy should work for people – not the other way round.
New Zealanders are much more concerned about keeping their job, or finding a job so they can get off the dole queue, than worrying about a tiny bit of inflation.
A successful economy comes down to having plenty of good jobs available, good housing, and good health and education systems. John Key and his henchpersons are failing miserably on all counts. They are hollowing out the economy with neo-liberal policies that are seriously damaging what little economic grunt remains.
Mr Key speaks in vague terms about the Government creating jobs but you rarely hear him say anything about polices to retain existing jobs. That shameful silence is filled by Kiwis watching our impotent economy force cash-strapped companies to the wall.
Three major manufacturers have shut up shop in the past month alone. With each closure comes the terrible human cost of lost jobs and incomes.
New Zealand First believes strong exporting, manufacturing, and research and development sectors are vital to growing our economy and providing good jobs.
Our plans to create growth in these areas include the development of an export credits guarantee scheme and a 20 per cent tax rate for exporters. We also support tax incentives for research and development, and would like to see an independent inquiry into all red tape and compliance costs. These hurt business – especially smaller companies.
Even when Mr Key has intervened to “create” jobs, it has been done in his usual underhand manner. His kowtowing to pressure from the US studio responsible for The Hobbit is a prime example of his preference for dealings behind closed doors.
He unilaterally agreed to change the law so the terms and conditions of many people working on the films could be slashed. This was apparently done to stop Warner Bros from taking the production offshore. The reality is Warner Bros never seriously considered taking the movie offshore, but was more than happy to strike a deal to get cheap labour.
Mr Key also floated the idea that giving Warner Bros big tax incentives to make the Hobbit in New Zealand would ensure the creation of 3000 Hobbit-reliant jobs. However, a significant number of those jobs are for movie extras who work for a very short time. But that is the way Mr Key and his Government views and treats a significant proportion of us – as extras who don’t deserve a good wage for a good days work.
This casualisation of the workforce is a serious issue. The Government smugly watches as historically good working terms and conditions are tossed aside so companies can hire casual staff on pitifully low pay rates. No wonder so many Kiwis are heading to the promised land of Australia.
Winston Peters is the Leader of New Zealand First