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The manufacturing crisis & the Right’s wilful blindness

Written By: - Date published: 3:18 pm, March 16th, 2013 - 19 comments
Categories: jobs - Tags: ,

You would have thought that, less than 24 hours after another 185 manufacturing jobs were lost, the Right might be keeping their head down when it comes to the crisis in manufacturing. But no. Farrar’s popped up to cite a rinky-dink survey from Business NZ showing manufacturing’s growing according to what is basically an index of how employers are feeling (they just ring some manufacturers – doubt it’s properly random – and ask them if orders are up, whether they’re hiring or firing etc – no actual industry-wide numbers).

Leaving aside the fact that the bosses’ union’s survey actually shows no job increases, the real surveys are very, very clear: 17,200 manufacturing jobs lost in the last year. The lowest December Quarter manufacturing job number on record. Manufacturing the largest contributor to the 30,000 net job losses last year.

And then there’s the real world stories. The stories told by the employers and the workers to the Manufacturing Inquiry (will Farrar now pull a Bill English and accuse them of being fakes and rubes too?) and the stories we see nearly every day in the newspaper – like the 185 printing jobs yesterday.

Is there a crisis in manufacturing? Hell yes.

And part of that crisis is due to the fact that National and its lackeys refuse to acknowledge the problem.

manufacturing crisis stats manufactured spin job losses in manufacturing


19 comments on “The manufacturing crisis & the Right’s wilful blindness”

  1. Poission 1

    Farrar is exhibiting his proctological skills once more using the results of a survey,which is at odds with the problem ie a higher dollar is decreasing the value (also known as money) that is being paid for decreasing export volumes offshore.

    We are getting less for say immaculately transformed export products, and agriculture volumes are holding up. prices are not( in nz terms)

    At present 2012 in a historical currency regime we would have got around 4b$ more for the same amount of work ie a more sustainable return and increased productivity, as the metric is weighted by the internal GNP.

  2. ghostrider888 2

    Manufacturing Discontent
    (gist a wee post-it note)
    I tells ya’s; the MSM said manufacturing was up; in food, beverage and tobacco related products.
    (adding value to the waist-line)

  3. Viv K 3

    In the Economic survey of manufacturing, Dec 2012 quarter, also touted by some as ‘evidence’ of no crisis, it counted petroleum and coal up 6.4%. Fossil fuel exports are not a substitute for actual jobs. I can’t access the Feb BNZ PMI survey on this non smart phone. Are petroleum and coal products included in these survey results?

  4. tsmithfield 4

    Hi James,

    I have to disagree with the word “crisis”. This has the implication of something, sudden, unexpected, adverse, and in need of a urgent solution.

    I think the word “trend” is more appropriate. There has been a long-term trend, as in many other western countries, for manufacturing to be relocated to countries that provide cheaper labour rates for mass production (e.g. China et al.). The currency situation doesn’t help. But it isn’t the cause.

    If we see the situation as a long-term trend, then the answer might well not be in “fixing” the manufacturing “crisis”. This might well be akin to trying to stop the tide, and simply mean tipping money and resources down the toilet. The answer might well be in adapting to the reality of the world, and focusing on our strengths. This might well mean a continuation of the trend in manufacturing. But as long as we are focusing on our strengths, and competitive advantages, then the country as a whole should prosper.

    For example, for the last several decades we have seen many, if not most of our manufacturing clients relocate their production to the likes of China. We have adapted by aligning our business associated with food production or construction.

    I think manufacturing can succeed in NZ. But it needs to be more “botique” in nature. That is, we need to focus on shorter-run, specialised type products, and high-end products that can’t economically be produced in the likes of China. However, I believe the days of long-run production of products for export in NZ are pretty much over. Other than for food related products where we have a competitive advantage.

  5. karol 5

    A long term trend can reach a crisis point, which makes glaringly obvious that it has reached a dangerous state.

    ts: I think manufacturing can succeed in NZ. But it needs to be more “botique” in nature.

    A bot-driven manufacturing sector…. or one that produces bots? Getting into the right territory though. Electronic technologies are part of an area of business that could be developed more in NZ.

    The priority given to NZ developing “Boutique” or “niche” markets is a big focus of neoliberal mythologies that over-emphasises the role of exporting. NZ also needs to be producing more stuff here by and for Kiwis.

    • tsmithfield 5.1


      I agree that a trend can reach a crisis point. However, that is usually because the trend has been ignored or not adequately accounted for over previous periods of time.

      The answer is still to adapt to the trend. However, it could well be more painful if it is left to the point where it has become a crisis.

      • tsmithfield 5.1.1

        Further, I agree that we should be producing here for Kiwis. However, it is what we produce that is the critical point.

        There is no point in creating an artificial situation where we produce here what could be produced much more economically elsewhere.

        • Colonial Viper

          There is no point in creating an artificial situation where we produce here what could be produced much more economically elsewhere.

          If you accept that then you accept that it’s a race to the bottom of the barrel.

          All you have to do is remove the costs of protecting the environment, ensuring a decent return to the community from taxes, eliminate decently paid employment and remove the expense of health and safety.

          The days of the natural competitive advantage of England making wool and Spain making wine are over my friend.

          • tsmithfield

            Lets say we were somehow able to drive down the Kiwi dollar over the longer term. Lets say we also set up tarriffs etc against imported goods. Sure, that would make local manufacturers more competitive. But the locally produced goods would be more expensive, and therefore, less easy for consumers to buy them. This would mean job losses in retail etc. So, artificial interventions aren’t the answer.

            Finding the areas of business where we have a competitive advantage is the only way to success.

  6. dumrse 6

    A more interesting headline would be…..”The WFF crisis and the Lefts wilful blindness”.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Quite right. WFF would not be needed if everyone was being paid a living wage, and if households on $80K pa and higher didn’t expect tax subsidies on what they earn from their employer.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    Which political party in NZ is advocating for an import substitution policy?

  8. Mark 8

    There is no doubt that there exists a m̶a̶n̶u̶f̶a̶c̶t̶u̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ manufactured crisis.

    Much life the global warming crisis:


    and the food price crisis


    I suspect the only real crisis is that of left wing faith…

    • GregJ 8.1

      That would be an article from David Rose the well known “expert” on climate change would it?

      Perhaps this might help.

      or you could reflect on the following:

      Jim Hacker: Don’t tell me about the Press. I know *exactly* who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by the people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they *ought* to run the country. The Times is read by the people who actually *do* run the country. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by people who *own* the country. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by *another* country. The Daily Telegraph is read by the people who think it is.

      Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?

      Bernard Woolley: Sun readers don’t care *who* runs the country – as long as she’s got big tits.

  9. Mark 9

    So discuss the graph, not who published it then.

    • GregJ 9.1

      Why should anyone discuss it – Rose is well known for his cherry picking of data on climate change, he is not a climate scientist and shows precious little understanding of the science (this is also the “investigative” journalist who unquestioningly accepted the claim from an entirely discredited source that Saddam Hussain trained the September 11th hijackers). I’m no more going to believe his analysis than I am the gardener currently working outside my office (actually I’m inclined to listen more to the gardener than Rose as the gardener actually understands climate, weather and science).

      There are plenty of credible scientific sites on the internet which have shown his articles are nonsense – and which link to credible scientific evidence on climate change. Perhaps rather than unquestioningly accepting rubbish like Rose’s you spend some time actually trying to understand the science from actual scientists – here – to help you along the way you can get started with this.

  10. David C 10

    That is a really old pic of Farrar, he must be 20 kg lighter now….

    • lprent 10.1

      It is an old favourite and much used in caption contents in various versions about 2008/9. But I will see if I can find a skinny more modern version for the archive

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