It was interesting to hear Bill English's reaction to the 2025 Taskforce's recommendations on policies New Zealand should follow to catch Australia in GDP per capita by 2025. The taskforce was set up by the National Party-led Government as a condition of its 2008 election coalition agreement with ACT. English didn't disagree with the taskforce's recommendations so much because he thought they were likely to fail to meet the objective, rather he dismissed the objective itself. It other words, he said it was unrealistic for NZ to try and catch Australia.
Let us think about what this means for a moment. Australia's economic growth hasn't been spectacular in recent years, in fact, it has been quite modest in comparison with China and some other Asian nations. Australia itself will have its work cut out trying to keep up with its Asian neighbours over the next 15 years. If NZ doesn't even keep pace with Australia, where does that leave us?
I think the answer to this question is obvious. It will leave New Zealand as an increasingly poor country in an increasingly prosperous region. We are already starting to take on the characteristics of a third world nation with low wages and poor infrastructure, and an economy based on commodity exports and low-cost tourism. If the trend continues, New Zealanders in the future will work for Chinese and Malaysian companies as low-cost labour, manufacturing consumer goods or pharmaceuticals; or as domestic servants making the beds, cleaning the toilets and tending the gardens in wealthy Asian homes. We will become a remittance economy with New Zealanders working offshore sending money home to enable unemployed relatives here to survive, just like many Pacific Island economies today.
Is this what we aspire to? According to Bill English it is. Essentially he is saying New Zealand should not try to compete with its neighbours in the region. We should lie down and allow ourselves to be rogered by those who have the fortitude to compete on the world stage.
I have never before heard such a pathetic, defeatist vision for this country. If this is all English and his cronies think the people of this country are capable of, they should all resign immediately.