BusinessDesk report by Pam Graham
Opposition parties meeting in Auckland today to publicise the issue of job losses have announced a parliamentary inquiry.
The inquiry is outside the usual select committee process and is similar to one held previously on profits made by banks in New Zealand.
A joint statement by the Greens, Labour and NZ First says the Finance and Expenditure committee last month blocked an attempt to hold a select committee inquiry into a crisis in manufacturing so the parties will hold their own inquiry.
It will hear oral submissions in several cities in early December. Other parties were welcome to join.
The opposition parties say that since 2008 nearly 40,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost to the economy. They do not give a figure for the number of jobs created.
In recent months jobs have gone at Solid Energy’s Spring Creek and Huntly East mines, Norske Skog’s paper mill in Kawerau, the Tiwai Point aluminimium smelter, Axiam Metals, Nuplex Industries, Flotech, Summit Wool Spinners, Goulds Fine Foods, Fisher & Paykel Appliances, KiwiRail and the Christchurch Engine Centre.
Businesses, unions and economists also attended today’s jobs summit in Auckland.
NZ First leader Winston Peters again called for changes to way the Reserve Bank of New Zealand operates to promote growth.
EPMU national secretary Bill Newson says the summit was a sign of the emerging consensus that the government needed to take a more active role in the economy.
Press Release – Joint Media Statement
The Labour Party, the Green Party and New Zealand First have today announced a parliamentary inquiry into the crisis in manufacturing.
The parties decided to launch the inquiry after government members of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee last month blocked an attempt to hold a select committee inquiry into the crisis in manufacturing.
All other parliamentary parties will be invited to join the inquiry. The inquiry will have a broad scope, looking both at the current crisis and the future role for manufacturing in the New Zealand economy. The parties agree that manufacturing is vital to building a prosperous future for New Zealand and reducing the flood of young people to Australia.
The parties also agree that real change is needed to protect and grow manufacturing in New Zealand, and that the current National Government has failed to provide any leadership on this issue.
Unlike National, the parties are not prepared to stand by while 40,000 manufacturing jobs are lost and pretend that nothing is wrong.
“The crisis in manufacturing is hammering communities from South Auckland to Bluff, from Kawerau to Greymouth. The future of our country depends on a modern manufacturing sector that creates better jobs and higher wages to keep Kiwis in New Zealand. It’s time to work together to achieve this,” said Labour Leader David Shearer.
“I believe New Zealand’s future is in smart, green manufacturing with high-skill, high-wage jobs that add value to our exports. Under National’s watch, manufacturing has been decimated. We urgently need to turn that around,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters says he is pleased to cooperate with the inquiry into the woes facing manufacturing and exporting sectors.
“New Zealand urgently needs economic policies that support export led growth. That is the only path to build a lasting prosperity and escape our international indebtedness. Amendments to the Reserve Bank Act to allow it to pursue a balanced economic policy supporting growth, exports and employment are a vital first step,” said Mr Peters.
The Inquiry Committee invites submissions from all people concerned with the crisis in manufacturing. We are particularly interested to learn from the personal experiences of workers and businesspeople who have lost jobs and income in recent years, and hear ideas for what government should be doing to give manufacturing the support it deserves.
The Committee will hold hearings of oral submissions in several cities in early December. A report will be published early in the new year.
Link to the terms of reference: