Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mr Shearer's Selective Patriotism

Last Refuge? David Shearer's repreated use of the word "patriotism" would be less worrying if it was more inclusive. Unfortunately, the "NZ Inc." approach, rather than advancing policies designed to benefit wage and salary earners across the board, almost always involves extending the state's support to a select group of employers.

“BLOODY IMMIGRANTS, taking our jobs, shouldn’t be allowed!” That’s how conservative working-class voters, sharing a jug at the Hornby Working Men’s Club, might’ve put it. But their analysis, for all its pith and honesty, would’ve been wrong. Immigrants have become an indispensable component of the New Zealand labour market. Without them our economy would stall. It was David Shearer’s duty to explain that. As leader of the Labour Party his role is to counter ignorance with facts, and prejudice with values. In Christchurch last week he did neither.
In his speech to the Hornby Working Men’s Club last Thursday, Mr Shearer quite rightly stated that: “We need to avoid being locked into a downward spiral where our skilled people go to Australia for better wages, where those people are replaced by migrants who are paid less, which in turn sends more of our skilled workers to Australia.”
In that single sentence the Labour leader encapsulated the grim dynamic of New Zealand’s labour market. This country’s ability to hold onto its skilled workers has been very seriously weakened by the power of what is, in effect, a single Australasian market for skilled labour.
In this context New Zealand operates not as a sovereign state, but as an entity indistinguishable from a state of Australia. The 35 percent-plus premium Australian employers are willing to pay skilled Kiwis for crossing the Tasman leaves New Zealand’s government with no option but to replace them with skilled immigrants for whom New Zealand wages and salaries exercise a similar magnetic effect.
Mr Shearer appears to think that limiting the influx of immigrant labour will somehow slow the exodus of skilled New Zealand workers to Australia. But it won’t. Australia’s borders remain open, and so long as that remains the case the cleverest and most talented Kiwis will continue to fly.
And if the efforts of the New Zealand government to meet the rising demand for skilled labour (driven in large measure by the Christchurch re-build) are to be scaled back, and the inflow of immigrants choked-off, then the economy will also suffocate.
At the core of the problems Mr Shearer identifies in his speech is the depressed levels of New Zealand wages and salaries. One way to address this would be to simply prohibit the emigration of skilled New Zealand workers. That would, of course, require New Zealand to become a totalitarian state – a solution most of us would reject out-of-hand. The other alternative is to substantially lift New Zealanders’ incomes.
The interesting question, therefore, is why Mr Shearer offered his staunchly Labour audience so little in the way of concrete measures for lifting wages and salaries. A careful reading of his speech reveals that increased incomes have been relegated to mere aspirations: something Labour would like to see; expects to see; but will do nothing beyond a modest increase in the minimum wage to achieve.
This means that any Labour Government led by Mr Shearer is likely to shy away from direct interventions in the labour market. It will not pass legislation designed to reverse the flow of wealth from wage and salary earners to owners and shareholders. It will not, by substantially lifting the minimum wage, engineer a wholesale winnowing-out of New Zealand’s most inefficient businesses. It will not pass legislation restoring universal union membership or the national award system. It will not use the Government’s ability to set wages and salaries in the public sector to provide both a guide and a goad for private sector employers. In short, it will not do any of the things required to raise the incomes of New Zealand’s wage and salary-earners.
What Mr Shearer did do, however, was promise all kinds of direct aid and assistance to New Zealand Incorporated. “It’s time we got proud”, he said, “time we got patriotic. It’s time we backed New Zealand, instead of taking our hands off the wheel.”
But Mr Shearer’s patriotism is selective. State assistance goes only to exporters. Direct intervention in the labour market extends only as far as limiting the inflow of immigrants. And Labour’s promise of improved living standards, by way of “high-skill, high wage” jobs, continues to follow the example of the White Queen’s employment contract in Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There: “The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today.”
What the audience gathered at the Hornby Working Men’s Club deserved to hear from Mr Shearer was an acknowledgement that Labour’s challenges are specific and immediate. To raise incomes by re-empowering working people and redistributing wealth. To make New Zealand a place where the diversity of its population is a source of strength and pride, not an opportunity for mistrust and division. To create a community of values, where loyalty is owed not to flags – but principles.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 23 October 2012.


Brendan McNeill said...


I think we all acknowledge the problem. I have children in Australia, who have exported themselves to pursue the opportunities you have described.

The 'problem' is that we cannot increase the wealth of all New Zealanders, or even a section of New Zealanders by Government fiat.

At least, not while we have open boarders and compete in a global market economy.

As an employee, the way to improve your income is to make yourself more useful. Be it by enhanced education, additional training, an exemplary work ethic, the ability to accept more responsibility, showing initiative, demonstrating creativity, being flexible and responsive to the needs of customers and management, or a combination of the above.

The decision to improve ones lot in life is both individual and personal. It is a decision that requires subsequent action.

To entrust or outsource your future to a third party such as a union or to Government is in many ways an abdication of personal responsibility, and I suggest one that will ultimately end in disappointment and failure.

We no longer live in the 20th century, where New Zealand's physical isolation, trade and currency restrictions allowed for greater manipulation of local markets and economies. Therefore the 'solutions' of the past no longer apply.

The best that Labour can do is address the issues openly and honestly. They could try telling the truth about our position in the world, and from there, how best to compete and succeed. I say that acknowledging they are not the only party that could do with truth telling.

This doesn't come easy to politicians who like simplistic answers and 15 second sound bites. Mind you, that's how we the voting public have trained them to behave.

Until that happens we will continue to export our best and brightest, and those who remain will continue in disappointment, if they look to the State for answers.

jh said...

Comments 4 to 1 in favour of Shearer in the herald.

jh said...

Your blaming low wages as if employers could just increase them. Try that in the competitive tourist industry where Chinese bus drivers now outnumber kiwis by a long shot.

The picture you don't see Chris Trotter is the unending supply of labour in the rest of the world.

Chris Trotter said...

Another homily, Brendan. Sigh.

Suppose you are employed by a firm in which there are twenty employees, five of them managers.

While those five management positions are filled, a person could display all of the qualities you encourage workers to acquire and still not win promotion.

Your view of capitalism is false, Brendan. It owes more to Horatio Alger than it does to economic science.

jh said...

What the audience gathered at the Hornby Working Men’s Club deserved to hear from Mr Shearer was an acknowledgement that Labour’s challenges are specific and immediate. To raise incomes by re-empowering working people and redistributing wealth. To make New Zealand a place where the diversity of its population is a source of strength and pride, not an opportunity for mistrust and division. To create a community of values, where loyalty is owed not to flags – but principles.
No Chris workers deserve to hear what workers think relayed upwards not the views of elites relayed downwards.

""I find your society genuinely admirable in many ways. For example, I met Helen Clark while I was in Wellington. I was invited to her official residence, and waved in by a lone policeman who didn't even check who I was, then I had a barbecue with her. I congratulated her on the public's enlightened attitudes towards racial issues, but she disagreed. She said to me that New Zealand was really a very racist country, and she was determined to do everything she could as prime minister to change that."

Chris Trotter said...

Great quote from Sir Ian McKellen, jh, but I'm not exactly sure what point it is you're trying to make.

That our political leaders should be driven by the ignorance and prejudice of their nation's most obnoxious citizens?


Olwyn said...

The issue you are broaching here is a complex one, and it is significant that the first of the letters to the Herald, in answer to the article jh linked, says: "Immigration is being used by the ruling class to lower wages and increase accommodation costs. These facts are not lost on those of us suffering the downside of this, I.e. Workers and renters..."

Prior to the editorial that provoked this comment, there was another editorial in the same paper saying, "No one should expect to have a state house for life." Why not, I asked myself, if people are expected to remain on low wages for life, and hence do not meet the desired prof. coup, no kids, no pets, standard for private rentals?

Both the rail against limiting immigration and the caution about state houses in the Herald amount to the same thing; you, the landless, precariously employed New Zealander are supposed to be clamouring for things that we, the New Zealand elite, will not let you have; adequately paid work and affordable, decent housing.

Given that these conditions do not attract many migrant workers to want to stay here, Australia may soon come to place limits on its acceptance of kiwi workers as well. The free movement between Australia and New Zealand, lets back door immigrants into Australia.

Whether or not limiting immigration is part of the answer I do not know, but the question involves not just wages but wages set against housing in particular and the cost of living in NZ in general. As the writer of the above mentioned comment says, "Bosses, homeowners and landlords should take off the blinkers before they get blindsided by a base, unforgiving "patriotic" movement."

jh said...

"not exactly sure what point it is you're trying to make.

That our political leaders should be driven by the ignorance and prejudice of their nation's most obnoxious citizens? "
She said “NZr's” are deeply racist. Studies of primates show that a degree of racism is in our genes. To deny that is like a priest saying he isn't attracted to women (or men).

But in the wider context she was the prime minister at the head of a government that unilaterally decided to open the gates on immigration with one of the aims being greater diversity. That was in the 1990's and it is a policy loved by the powerful realestate sector (even Colin Townsend of the Property Council joins in on the xenophobia chorus). The Savings Working Group has raised the red flag on numbers of migrants and yet they have been ignored; to admit being in the wrong would mean for one thing attributing high house prices, traffic, infill housing, lack of saving, low productivity per worker with the judgement of a whole set of elites. It is 2012 and we are yet again crying xenophobia ... the right population balance is a point on the horizon we just never get to.

This is all just gross arrogance on the part of elites who do not work as ordinary workers with ordinary prospects, but presume to know them and have seen through them i.e out of touch.

jh said...

"“New Zealand has gone from having a very ‘white’ immigration policy in the 60s to being super-diverse in 2012. This is a significant shift and has occurred with minimal conflict,” he says. “Immigration has been really important – in part to replace people emigrating and to dampen the effects of population aging*. We rely on immigrants for their skills and entrepreneurialism.”

See! it's all decided by the professor. How did he get all that knowledge into that small head?

* the Australian Productivity Commission called this approach a "sugar hit".

Brendan McNeill said...


In your example, the up skilled employe may not immediately win promotion, but they can certainly earn a pay rise and position themselves for advancement when one of those managers leaves, as they most certainly will, or with another employer.

We do not live in a fixed world where nothing changes, nor do we all share a fixed pie where one profits at the expense of another.

Disclaimer: The above insights have been obtained while working as an employee, and more latterly as an employer. As a consequence these insights may be subject to distortion through exposure to reality.

Victor said...

Any thumping of the anti-immigration drum is likely to consign the drummer to the political margins.

40% of the population of our largest city was born outside New Zealand. And I confess to being one of them. Many of us have the temerity to vote.

jh and those of like mind might abhor this reality but it cannot be reversed.

Moreover, without immigration, our population would by now have been depleted by emigration, with the the most skilled and those in their most productive years going first.

I would agree that, other things being equal, a small population can help enrich a country with an already functioning economy.

But New Zealand's economy has been dysfunctional for many decades, with or without high levels of immigration. So that argument is irrelelvant to our circumstances.

Logically, Labour can now only turn itself into an anti-immigrant party, if it's also willing to become an anti-Auckland party.

But electoral success may ultimately depend on Labour mobilising its South Auckland base, as it failed to do in 2011.

"Think on't", as they used to say in the more northerly regions of the place from which I emigrated.

Shane Pleasance said...

Mr T, I have had a quick scan through your recent posts - are there any here that do not call for massive government intervention?

guerilla surgeon said...

It's hilarious, they bitch and moan about not being able to find skilled labour because they're all going to Australia, and when you say "pay them more you arse because that's the way capitalism works" they say "we can't afford it!" and one of the reasons they can't afford it is because management in this country is so bloody inefficient. I think that's been well established now.

God, just for once if the right lived up to their own principles.

James McGehan said...

Chris the problem begins with the reality that from 1987 we have lost the ability to own our companies. First we saw multi nationals snap them up, next we saw them folded into the Australian versions as subordinates to NSW and Victoria, equivalent to Queensland at best.
But in 1996 the Australian business papers began to print stories bemoaning the passing of control from Australia to Singapore and/or Bangkok. It's globalisation and we have to find ways to deal with it which don't involve wishful thinking.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Mr Pleasance.

You may not be aware of the fact, Sir, but you have wandered into a blog belonging to a Left Social-Democrat, or, if you prefer, a Democratic Socialist.

"Massive state intervention" kinda goes with the territory.

jh said...

Moreover, without immigration, our population would by now have been depleted by emigration, with the the most skilled and those in their most productive years going first.
Quoting Michael Reddell Senior Economist at the reserve bank:

Peter highlights that we have a relatively high rate of natural increase in population.
But we also have a large and persistent outflow of NZers (large by any comparative
international standards). That outflow should best be seen as a rational response to perceived opportunities - those abroad are better than those here. Outflows of New Zealanders should generally act as a stabilizing force, helping to rebalance the economy. Economies with slow growing populations need to devote a whole lot smaller proportion of their real resources to simply maintaining the capital stock per

Victor says:
I would agree that, other things being equal, a small population can help enrich a country with an already functioning economy.

But New Zealand's economy has been dysfunctional for many decades, with or without high levels of immigration. So that argument is irrelelvant to our circumstances. "

The Savings Working Group (described by Mat Nolan as "a group of great thinkers" ) disagree. They maintain that high levels of immigration are a primary cause of our economic problems.

Olwyn said...

@ Victor: claiming that there should be constraints on further immigration is not the same as being anti-immigrant; I have heard some immigrants themselves express the same view. It is silly, for example, to greatly increase the population of a place without also increasing the infrastructure to accommodate the extra population. Using the population increase to create competition for existing jobs and houses can only lead to tensions. This affects immigrants, who have taken the bother to pack up and change countries, as well as locals. They move on to Australia, they turn around and go home, they cry and say they wish to hell they hadn't come here.

In fact New Zealand presently seems to manifest a mean spirited and grasping attitude to immigrant and New Zealand worker alike. Getting the cheapest people to do jobs while kiwis remain unemployed, but chucking out an Englishman who has invested a lot in Northland because he has a heart condition, for example. Lionising Dot Com for his wealth one minute and arresting him the next. And so on, and so on.

jh said...

The first house I lived in had a double section, my mother would wheel me around the neighbourhood visiting her friends and would sit for a cup of tea and they would have a cutting or bulb to swap. That was life in the 1950's. Fast track today.

Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay told yesterday's conference that the city had a crisis in the making around residential housing. "Most areas will be subject to significant change," he said.

The most affected areas would be close to the 10 metropolitan centres - Albany, Botany, Henderson, Manukau, New Lynn, Newmarket, Papakura, Sylvia Park, Takapuna and Westgate/Massey North - and near public transport nodes.

Housing squeeze

What's the problem?

Auckland's population is expected to grow by 1.2 million people over the next 30 years, requiring 400,000 new houses.


Where will Mr Shearers workers live were they in Auckland Chris Trotter?

KJT said...

The simple fact is immigration is being used as a tool by employers both to keep wages for skilled work low and to avoid training costs.

It is ridiculous they are allowed to when there is a huge pool of unemployed New Zealanders and we are hemorrhaging the skilled to Australia because of low wages.

Just one instance I know of recently where more than 100 Kiwi's applied,for a high skilled job, mostly more than qualified, but they took someone from UK to avoid a few thousand in specific training costs.

It is not zenophobic to say that allowing employers to compensate for meanness and lack of foresight with immigration is the wrong thing to do.
Especaiily as many of these immigrants are willing to work for very little in NZ just to get residency so they can go to much higher paying jobs in Australia also.

The many immigrants getting into the back door to Oz this way is going to result in the dooor being shut to New Zealanders also.
And the flow of skilled people through NZ will dry up.

Victor said...


At a theoretical level, I would agree with Michael Reddell that a slightly smaller population could improve the prospects of an economy, provided that it was the younger, more active and best skilled people who tended to hang around. For obvious reasons, that tends not to happen.

I’m not sure from your account whether the ‘great thinkers’ of the Savings Working Group actually believed New Zealand had a functioning economy at some point before the recent waves of immigration. If so, I’d like to know when that lost Nirvana existed.

It certainly didn’t exist during the years that Muldoon was feverishly papering over the cracks. Nor did it exist in the 40 years prior to that, when the UK consumer was providing NZ’s economy with the indirect subsidy of Commonwealth Preference. And nor, obviously, did it exist, during the Great Depression. So when?


I agree that immigration policy can and should be addressed without stoking anti-immigrant prejudice.

There are certainly important and recurrent questions to ask about the administration of policy and the apparent inability of our bureaucrats to determine whose skills will or will not fit easily into the New Zealand market. Australia’s officialdom seems to do a much better job.

And, yes, our infrastructure is in tatters, with immigration adding to the strain. The economic advantages may well be further downstream, when the second generation leaves school.

Moreover, countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Canada have all become inadvertent guinea pigs in an accidental (?) experiment to determine whether massive demographic change can occur without a dangerous erosion of social capital, coherence and solidarity.

All I would hazard to observe on this point is that, thus far, these counties have done better than I’d have expected and considerably better than many countries in Europe which have experienced much smaller migrant flows.

The problem is, though, that discourse on immigration has a perennial tendency to degenerate into the stoking of prejudice, as much against those comparative newcomers already in their new homelands as against those yet to seek entry. It's dog-whistle territory, with brass knobs on!

It’s hard to totally absolve Shearer’s Hornby speech from this type of motivation,given its place and circumstance and his overall disinclination to engage with broader measures for rescuing our economy.

Moreover, I'm struck by the tendency to regard immigrants as non-participants in the discourse over immigration. For example, I would agree with you that "New Zealand presently seems to manifest a mean spirited and grasping attitude to immigrant and New Zealand worker alike."

But why do you regard immigrants and New Zealand workers as two separate categories? Are 40% of Aucklanders not New Zealanders?

Olwyn said...

@ Victor: Sorry, I should have said "new immigrants" since it takes a period of residence to become a New Zealander or New Zealand resident. I was not born in NZ myself, and certainly did not mean to suggest that those who have come here from elsewhere are of a different category than those who were born here.

jh said...

Whether the 40% of Aucklanders who were born overseas are NZr's or not is a matter of identity (for them) however the issue is, having taken a LOT why do we not have a choice as to whether this policy choice of population increase continues. The "Needed skills" is mostly a smoke screen... if not we really must be one hell of an economy.. but more likely it is just a ponzi scheme that will leave us poorer in terms of people to environment ratios.

Victor, have you read:



why were the terms of our productivity commission

"relatively uncontroversial given the desire to establish broad political support for the Commission"

but embraced by the property investors association?

jh said...

I would think that when British first arrived here they were British for quite a while until they grew apart (they certainly weren't Maori). People tend to know which side their bread is buttered on.
One more point, there is an economic value to being the member of a Nation, especially in a world where population growth follows the exponential function: (divide rate of population growth into 70 to find the time it takes for the population to double). Despite our landmass there are limited shellfish gathering places and fishing spots.

Stack said...

As a very former public service employee, I experienced the evisceration of the Post Office. If I remember correctly, Telecom, the bit I ended up in, shed 24,000 staff. That was the moment when the New Zealand Government decided not to provide jobs and training for people who could well otherwise be unemployed and not to use their pay rates to moderate the market. All in preperation for asset sales. The free market is what it says, a way to try to make us work for as close to free as possible.

Victor said...


Many thanks for sending me the links. I can’t say that I’ve yet had time to study them in infinite detail. But I’ve read them with interest and look forward to rereading them.

Yes, of course, there’s less strain on a nation’s resources and on its social capital, if its population is maintained primarily by procreation rather than immigration.

However, a combination of factors prevent New Zealand’s population from sustaining itself in this way. Yes, we’ve had several years of rapid population growth. But, last time I looked at the stats, we were again suffering from net population loss, despite continuing immigration flows.

Would it matter if our population count went into long term decline? Forgive me if I’m caricaturing your argument, but you seem to think that this would actually be a good thing, as there would be less pressure on both resources and the environment.

My own view is different. There’s a certain critical mass of population without which a nation can’t survive (unless, of course, it’s Luxemburg, with France, Germany, Belgium and Holland just a skip and a hop away).

Partly it’s a matter of not having sufficient skilled people to fulfil all the required functions.
The problem is not that New Zealanders lack skills. There are just not enough skilled New Zealanders because there are just aren’t enough New Zealanders. And the most skilled are often, of course, the keenest to leave these shores.

And so we make do with the less skilled and we then lose the ability to distinguish between skilled and unskilled. Our standards rot away, the quick fix that ain’t no fix becomes our default mode and the inherent patch protectiveness of the mediocre becomes all pervasive.

But, of course, skills are only one part of the equation. Any functioning country needs a tax base and any economy requires a reasonably resilient domestic market. And, like every other economy on the planet, we need to reconcile the ostensibly conflicting needs of short term stimulus and long term saving. This too requires a critical mass of people.

Meanwhile, I may not share the full emotive depth of your concern for the sustainability of our crustacean beds, but, yes, obviously, there’s a broad correlation between low human population and environmental protection.

More to come......

Victor said...

Continuing previous post......

But it’s just that: a broad correlation and not an absolute. For example, a country with a slightly larger population might be able to sustain a better public transport system which substantially reduces the size of each individual’s carbon footprint. And it might also be able to afford infrastructure that better protects the environment.

And, yes, I would agree with you that New Zealand has yet to show a profit on relatively high levels of immigration. I suspect this will take another decade at least, until such time as the New Zealand educated children of recent immigrants form their own critical mass and are more integrated into the mainstream than their parents.

Yes, the country will look different then. There may well be fewer people around who appreciate your elegiac nostalgia for a time when swapping bulbs was a prerequisite of social intercourse. But I suspect that would be the case, anyhow, with or without high levels of immigration.

I agree with you that we should be debating demographics and that we can’t do so without also discussing immigration. The tone and context of such discussions remain, however, matters of significance, given their propensity to foment cancerous prejudices. Hence, part of my concern over Shearer’s Hornby speech.

And, by the way, I don’t buy into the notion that New Zealanders have had high levels of immigration foisted on them without their choosing them. At every election since 1993, there’s been a political party around that claimed to be able to ‘fix’ the problem. And, for much of this period, its weight in parliament has been more or less proportionate to the numbers voting for it.

Finally, let there be no mystery about who is or is not a New Zealander. A New Zealander is a citizen of New Zealand. That’s all! Not necessarily a member of a mystic Volk community; not always someone whose ancestors have been around for X number of generations; not necessarily somebody who loves their Watties Beans, who wants to compete with you for a fishing spot or who even wants to obsess about rugby.

And you might have to accept that some New Zealanders have more than one focus of loyalty. I confess to having problems over recent immigrants from China who see it as their duty to vote for New Zealand political parties favourable to the despotism they've left behing them. But I have no problem about them loving China.

Gnossienne said...

I have just been re reading in Rewi Alley's Autobiography about the Gung Ho(work together)initiative for small cooperative industrial production. This was in part to keep Chiang Kai-check and the Kuomintang from giving in to the invading Japanese and also to lay the foundation for the cooperative movement of a liberated China.
I wonder what Rewi Alley would have thought of the emergence of Chinese capitalists within a non democratic socialist state running sweat shops for the benefit of deregulated world capitalism?
No doubt a Gung Ho cooperative would be as much of an anathema to party functionaries in modern China as it was to the banks, Kuomintang, regional Imperial officials and gangs of local bandits in the old days.Rewi's thoughts on two wealthy Chinese mega pimps wrecking an Auckland heritage building with barely a bleat from the local mayor and corporation, while determinedly pushing to build a multi storied brothel in the Auckland CBD, can only be imagined.
The Shandan School model and regional Gung Ho cooperatives though, might be an answer in small countries like New Zealand where the once excellent local manufacturing base in clothing, shoes, flax and wool mills, electrical goods, whiteware and publishing to name a few were destroyed by the new religion of neo liberal economics with its asset stripping, deregulation,and globalisation.
The process of the dialectic never ceases and now is the time to promote initiatives in New Zealand like Alley's Shandan Schools and the Gung ho cooperatives because the era of endless growth in population or in production riding on the back of fossil fuels is over.
The new paradigm is about local quality of life, a realignment of body mind and spirit with a cooperative understanding of existence on a spinning planet with a now fragile eco system.

V said...

Until the left of NZ politics continues to act as a handbrake on the nation, whether that be perpetuation of grievance industry, delaying sound/practical exploration of natural resources, scientific progress or simply general development, it's populace will vote with its feet because you simply can't get those related jobs in NZ.

There has never been any reason why NZ could not get the economy in competitive shape to be a service centre for the east coast of Australia. Hell we automatically get out of bed 2 hours earlier each day.
What is lacking is political will to get the economy even remotely competitive, and by competitive I mean significantly more so, not just a 1% difference in tax rates or other meek measures.

Mark said...

Er crikey.Mr Trotter this is the first time I have been on this site and I would just like to say what an amazingly intelligent discourse you are able to engender.I am at abit of a disadvantage in the quality of input I could make however well done to yourself and your many contributors

Anonymous said...

Surely the basis of NZ's 20C prosperity was agriculture provided sufficient income, because the nations population was small- and the income was effectively redistributed and an essentially low efficiency modest effort job market were created to occupy the largely unproductive economy. The plans of Sutch, 20C Labour and the 1983 Labour A team basically consisted of creating more protected jobs. Efficient manufacturing allways would have depended here on a higer skilled better educated and disciplined workforce with Walmart type labour relations and enforcement.
Given the fisheries were handed over to the Maori interest with the Sealord the only actual possible diversification was the recreation of a NZ as a sophisticated hetrosexual tourist playground with allsorts of licensed resorts at POrt Chev Beach, Mission Bay and DEvonport-like Cuba in 1957 it woud have been controversial.

jh said...

Chris I recommend you read the latest treasury working paper
Migration and Macroeconomic
Performance in New Zealand:
Theory and Evidence
Julie Fry
New Zealand Treasury Working Paper 14/10
Executive Summary
Relative to other OECD countries, New Zealand has high rates of population inflow and outflow. These are related: there has been a deliberate policy choice since the early 1990s to more than replace departing New Zealanders with immigrants. Significant benefits were anticipated from increasing the number and quality of people working within New Zealand’s reformed economy and institutions.

and I like this:
it is important to pay attention to the characteristics of individual
country experiences, and the possible role of combinations of circumstances. In New Zealand, migration policy has made a large difference to population growth, throughout history and over the past 20 years.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, immigration to New Zealand could be seen as reflecting a favourable shock to the tradable sector. Opening up new lands to
production, falling transport costs, refrigerated shipping combined to lift the population capacity of New Zealand while still offering high wages and high rates of return.

By the middle of the 20th century, New Zealand was settled and producing, and
technological change in the key export sectors was no longer as rapid (relative to other producers). The factor price equalisation justification for strong population growth had
dissipated, yet population growth remained high. Across the OECD, there is some evidence that rapid population growth in post-war advanced countries was associated with an apparent cost to per capita growth rates.