National’s economic thought is apparently that the economy wants to be a three-legged stool.
The first (obvious) leg is farming, which can’t really be expanded much more.
The second leg is tourism, which is why John Key has the Tourism portfolio, while David Shearer has Science and Innovation. Every additional tourism job makes us poorer as a country as tourism jobs earn less for the country than our national average – let alone the OECD’s average.
The third leg is ‘drill baby drill‘.
New Zealand has not had the most stringent restrictions on mineral and gas exploration. Outside National Parks – even on conservation land – it’s not hard for a mineral prospector to get a license to explore. And should they find something and exploit it, the royalties and obligations aren’t that high – frankly they should be more onerous. We have nothing like the restrictions Middle Eastern nations put on their precious resources, to keep the wealth in their countries, and nothing like the protections Norway has for its environment.
And yet, the exploitation companies haven’t come in their droves.
But for some reason National seem to think that that’s where our future lies. Statistics say that we have rights to a decent chunk of the planet’s surface (most of it underwater), so on average there should be substantial deposits somewhere.
On average someone wins Lotto each week too. That doesn’t mean we’re going to get lucky if we buy a heap of tickets. Indeed some may recall that the title ‘the Lucky Country’ is already taken. And they’ve got a lot more surface area than us.
Now we may be lucky and become the Norway of the South Seas. Hopefully we’ll be sensible enough to try and demand their environmental standards before there’s a Horizon event. And hopefully we’ll negotiate to keep a decent share of the profits from what is our resource, not some prospecting companies. With this government I wouldn’t be confident of either.
But to decide that ‘getting lucky’ is our path to future prosperity? To bank on a lucky find instead of the talents of our people? This speaks of a serious lack of faith in New Zealanders. We’re not good enough to get there with knowledge and skills and education and innovation. No, we’ll just have to bank on hitting the jackpot.
Bill English had some lovely quotes yesterday:
Great work Bill.