We’ve been critical of this do nothing government’s economic record, but now I/S at No Right Turn has received documents that lay out the Nats’ economic plan. They rejected the notion of government, business, and workers pulling together to create a better economy and went with: 1) find lots of oil 2) lots of GM cows.
Inspiring, eh? This government rejected the suggestion from Treasury that it should follow the model of Singapore, Korea, and, lets face it, every other economic success story whereby the government ‘picks winners’ and leads investment in promising areas. Instead, they hope to (somehow) export a whole lot more oil and a lot more milk – hey China, fancy some white gold in your texas tea?
I/S explains what the papers he received under the OIA reveal:
“NZ’s GDP per-capita growth rate must be 1.5% higher than Australia’s on average over the next 15 years if we are to close the gap. The Government has already admitted that it does not expect to meet that target for the next five years. Real exports/capita needs to grow 2.2% faster than their historic average of 3.1%. There’s no sign of that happening. Exports need to grow to $150 billion. But even the government’s “stretch” targets show them coming to only $116 billion or $137 billion if we discover oil (which seems to be their plan, BTW: “discover oil”).”….
….”The presentation to the Cabinet Strategy Committee, Achieving New Zealand’s Economic Potential: Exploiting International Opportunities by Harnessing our Strengths (15 September 2009), recommended a strong focus on the high-tech manufacturing and services sectors. The key policies were supposed to be government coinvestment to help firms overcome capital constraints, and a strong focus on assistance with R&D (described as “replacing the R&D tax credit”). Neither of these has happened, or looks likely to. Which means that National’s ambitious growth targets there won’t be met. So what does that leave?
That’s right: farming. And in particular, dairy farming.
Somewhat oddly, Brownlee attempted to withhold all information on the dairy industry’s current and expected growth on the basis that it would “prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand or the international relations of the Government of New Zealand”. More likely that it would prejudice the popularity of the government. Because he stupidly missed a bit. And that shows that National plans a massive expansion of dairy farming. Currently, the dairy industry is worth $10.15 billion a year. At its expected growth rate of 3% a year, they expect it to be worth $16.9 billion in 2025. They want it to be worth $25.9 billion. In other words, they want to double the growth rate, and more than double the size of, the dairy industry.
Some of this growth will apparently come from increased offshore production, driven by a restructuring of Fonterra to allow them to raise capital more easily (the information on that is largely withheld, unfortunately). Some of it – but not much – will come through more efficient cows. But most of it will come through simply increasing the size of the dairy herd. In other words, their plan for growth is “more cows”. Which means more shit and nitrates fouling our waterways, and more greenhouse gases fouling our atmosphere. We can barely cope with the environmental footprint of dairy farming as it is, and National is planning to double it. At the same time, they plan to
promote NZ as synonymous with products and services that are safe, secure and sustainable that are good for the consumer and for the planet.
How they intend to do this when we are drowning in cowshit is anyone’s guess. maybe a glossy PR campaign, and hoping that no-one ever actually looks at a river?
Meanwhile, there are a few other scary ideas in their dairy plans. “Review[ing] incentives for rational irrigation, storage, and water use decisions” for a start. In other words, giving all the water to farmers for free. When government Ministers like David Carter spout ignorant bullshit like “Here in Canterbury 96 percent of all water flows out to sea” (that is, we have rivers), then you have to worry.
Then there’s this little bit in the “Barriers and issues” section:
Market acceptability of GM would have to be tested and may require modifications to the HSNO Act.
So, the government wants genetically modified cows. But at the same time, it wants to promote us as safe and sustainable. Good luck with that. European customers have spoken: they hate GM, and don’t want it in their food chain. So quite apart from any domestic issues, its just a dumb commercial decision. But as we’ve already seen with water and climate change, farmers aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed when it comes to environmental branding.
So, National’s plan for growth is to do the same thing we’ve always done, only more of it and dirtier. Its exactly the sort of plan I’d expect from narrow-minded, jealous farmers. But it won’t see us catch Australia anytime soon. On their core promise, National has no real plan to deliver.”
An extraction economy, which is what both National is proposing, is not the model of a successful, prosperous, sustainable country in the 21st century. But it appears they are too ideologically set against government leadership and too fundamentally lazy and bereft of ideas to steer the economy towards a better future.