Talk fast, shoot the messenger, and spin like a top. That’s Joyce’s style, trying to defend the indefensible; National’s neglect of New Zealand’s manufacturing industry.
He tried it on the Nation a couple of weeks ago, and again on Morning Report this morning. Amidst all the gabble, Joyce attacked John Whitaker, CEO of the highly respected and long-established Dunedin company Farra Engineering.
The government is not looking after manufacturers, and should take a leaf out of Australia’s approach. The New Zealand government is so hell-bent on being squeaky clean so they can enter into trade agreements with anyone and everyone so they actually neglect their own, where every other country has a lot more importance placed on their manufacturing industry and go out of their way to support them.
That criticism obviously stung – in true Joyce style, his response was to get personal and shoot the messenger:
With the greatest respect to that gentleman in Dunedin he really does need to go and have a look around – most of the manufacturing organisations I talk to –he hasn’t been hit hard by it — yet — New Zealand firms are getting more competitive –to suggest that is not happening really is a little bit ungracious from one of two in the industry.
One or two? It’s Joyce that needs to go and have a look around. They’re all saying that government is not doing enough for manufacturing industry. Whitaker’s right, and they’ve been saying it for years. Australia does a lot more for its own industry, as I know from the time I was on the Industrial Supplies Office management committee under the last National government who had no interest in using government purchasing to support New Zealand Industry. And it was this National government that refused to insist that KiwiRail build railway wagons at Dunedin’s Hillside workshops, which would have kept jobs and a manufacturing industry cluster in Dunedin.
So on to the spin. Manufacturing went up in the last quarter, says Joyce. That’s not what the latest Performance of Manufacturing Index, produced by BusinessNZ says.
The BNZ-BusinessNZ seasonally adjusted PMI for July stood at 49.4, which was a further 0.6 points down from June and again representative of the sector in a holding pattern. Compared with previous July results, the 2012 value was the lowest since 2008.
Joyce also banged on about how Norske Skog were going to invest in biofuels. David Cunliffe blew a hole in that line – National abandoned Labour’s support for biofuels in 2009.
All Joyce can say is that New Zealand firms have to get more competitive. But in the big wide world, the first thing New Zealand needs to do to compete is to look after its own. That’s where Joyce and National miss the mark by a mile.