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Business leader backs Greens’ $1 billion innovation and sustainability plan

Support for the Green's enhanced innovation and sustainability policies has come from the business sector. 

BusinessNZ chief executive Phill O’Reilly says he strongly supports increased funding for science and technology.

He says innovation and sustainability is needed in every sector of the economy and business favours policies that support  these goals if fiscally prudent.

The Greens’ policy, costed at $1 billion, includes the funding of an additional 1000 places at tertiary institutions for students studying engineering, maths, computer science and physical sciences.

Mr O’Reilly says the move goes to the heart of business’ need for more technically skilled employees.

“Businesses say their top issue is getting enough appropriately skilled staff," he says. "Businesses that are competing through innovation have a critical need for people with technical skills.”

The Greens’ continued support for direct R&D grants will also be welcomed, he says.

“The value of such grants is that they can be directed toward companies with high growth prospects where their industry is aligned strategically with New Zealand’s exporting strengths. 

“They can also be timed to be of most strategic value, for example late-stage development where a firm has already invested significantly in the early stages of innovative products.”

However, other policies such as firms receiving grants agreeing to the government taking an equity stake could pose risks, Mr O’Reilly says.

Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman says innovation lies at the heart of a smart, green economy.

“Economies that innovate do better over the long term, creating good jobs that pay well," he says. “Our economy is on the wrong track. We invest roughly only half what most other developed countries do on research and development.”

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says the Green Party needs to learn what’s already happening with innovation.

"The Greens, like Labour, have shown no interest in what's been happening with New Zealand's innovative businesses since Labour left government in 2008.

“That shows in their policy release today which is full of embarrassing 2008-style rhetoric which has long since been overtaken by time,” he says. The state's support for R&D in 2015/16 will be 70% higher than in 2008, he adds.

Jason Walls is an AUT journalism student

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Comments and questions

Come on Phil, you are only for it as it includes easy hand outs from the government. If a business has such a good idea go to the market for the money to develop not the taxpayer.
The problem is in the areas the Greens want to develop there are too many unproven high cost ideas that are more ideological than practical and money making. If only the green way was so easy, but it is fraught with taking money from those that need to create a utopia that’s just not possible. Again if it was so easy why do all the Greenies not put their own money into developing alternative fuels etc.

The reason they don't put their own money in is because they don't have any. They are virtually all pointy-heads who don't live in the real world, can't manage their own money, and think they should punish anyone who can.


And whilst an extra Billion in R&D sounds great - the total cost to NZ having a Labour/Green/Mana/Winston1st/Internet/IMP hydra attempting to portray itself credible... and credible enough to lead all of NZ is farcical.

Where does the Billion dollars come from Mr. Marxist?

Phil obviously does not know that the Green party put quite a lot of money into wind power. Which they are still promoting.

They got out of the investment a couple of years ago having lost nearly all of it. They are spectacularly bad at picking winners because they have such a massive ideological bias in favour of things that they think are good for the world.

Virtually every manufacturer of wind turbines and solar cells all over the world is going broke right at this moment. And I will bet they want to put lots of investment into just that. (For clarification, many wind and solar developers are making heaps of money because of the huge subsidies provided up by idiotic governments – all at the expense of the consumers.)

When governments pick winners they often get it wrong. When the environmentalists pick winners, they virtually always get it wrong.

Too true Bryan,

Yep - the Greens seem to have gone rather quiet recently regarding wind and solar power these days - the language, rhetoric and narrative is now "smart green technologies" pushing "new technologies" like 3D printing - until it's pointed out to them that the plastic, steel and electronic components required to make these things are all derivatives of oil & gas products...

But there is hope for the Greens - they can coat-tail on Labour's fortunes...

Steel and electronics derivatives of oil and gas? Do illuminate us further. Could they be derivatives of cleaner energy sources too?

Funny thing the Green Party in NZ was investing in wind at the time the Greens in the UK were rallying against wind because of noise and visual pollution. In the UK they went offshore to protect the environment.

Visual pollution? Check out the hills of the Manawatu sometime and then take a trip up to Marsden Point to compare. That refinery is a filthy blight on what was the most pristine coast in New Zealand.

Where is your evidence that "Virtually every manufacturer of wind turbines and solar cells all over the world is going broke right at this moment"

I suppose you support coal fired power generators...

When vast corporations pick losers they collect bail outs from the supposedly inefficient Governments you lambast.

Where does the Billion come from? By getting a fair tax take from everyone. Or alternatively it could be borrowed a la John Key. (Can't see the Greens being stupid enough to just borrow and hope though)

Good call Phil O'Reilly

At last a business leader who is actually honest and gives credit where credit is due - this time to the Greens

Phil is probably as blue as blue but sees real benefits to the business community and is prepared to do what is right for his clients - not just take a political stance and poo poo great ideas - regardless.

All this Greenphobia is astonishing and pathetic - all coming from the far right

This is self interested and short sighted politically by Business NZ. Do they really want a Labour-Greens coalition to influence the Treasury benches? Or is this unsubtle pressure on the incumbent Government? How does Business NZ think Federated Farmers would react? As a taxpayer to a businessman, I say find your own funding.

We should not spend more until we get value from whatvwe are spending.

Joyce should look under the hood maybe they are sending more but are they getting results. I think there is a lot of smoke and mirrors going on.

But Joyce thinks as long as he is spending more and using the right buzz words it is all ok. If he was really interested he would be looking for real change.

I noticed that the Greens $1 billion for R&D appears not to include anything for high tech biological research in the agricultural sector. Why? Because high tech research of this type which aims to make crops with better growth, yeild, nutritional or drought tolerance characteristics almost always involves genetic modification techniques of the crop concerned.

So it's R&D alright, but only politically correct R&D of the type that the Greens like. Expect tens to hundreds of millions spent on whacky research such as "Seaweed fortified bovine dung buried for five months in ovis canadensis horns as an organic fertiliser increases the yeild of mung bean and lentil crops by 4%". But zero dollars for proven orthodox research that the Greens don't much like.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but was not the good ole Kiwifruit genetically modified from the Chinese Gooseberry?

...and all the various different types hybrids of that?

Fortunately,the Greens could only cause havoc if they could get into Parliament. After 24 years of constant failing, it still doesn't look like they'll get anywhere near, or be able to ride on Labour's fortunes and coat tails anywhere...

Hand outs are not wanted by genuine businesses. What we need is assistance in developing offshore markets. This includes market intelligence, local contacts, and on-going promotion of NZ products by (e.g., Trade & Industry). This is too often based around large exporters (milk, food, wine, meat, etc.) but neglects manufacturing and machinery - an area in which NZ excels (but goes under the radar. Think Buckley Systems.
The Green policy is simply vote-buying using other people's money.

This doesn't sound like the crazy hippies I have heard about. This actually sounds like a Green party I could support. They're also doing quite well in the polls for a minor party. I might vote for them this year, unless National win me back.

Perhaps these links will put the Green economy claims into perspective.

This is absolute hypocrisy by Phil O'Reily and Business NZ saying that they support the Greens new policy on science and innovation against the backdrop of the great suite of policy emerging from the greens (clean-tech, science and innovation, water, renewable energy, regional development et al).

It is Business NZ and O'Reily personally whom have rallied against a price on carbon and policy by this government to shelter big business and the polluters from a price on Carbon. It is Business NZ whom are responsible for the perverse situation currently that see's the polluters (the energy companies - members of Business NZ) actually profiting to the tune of $10's million each year to POLLUTE.

And even more perversely, who's paying these guys to pollute, every day New Zealand taxpayers when we fill up our cars with fuel and pay our monthly electricity bills. Buried in these charges is a fee being charged by these companies (Phil's mates) for their pollution.

And this government knows it is happening and is happy to allow this to keep happening.

Again, absolute hypocrisy by Phil O'Reily and Business NZ. Go the Greens for all your far reaching policy thinking .....

Contra CKI I think this is an incredibly healthy sign from BusinessNZ - it is hardly 'hypocrisy' that they have gradually come around to the Green point of view, and are perhaps now appreciating the significant virtue of increased Kiwi participation in the rapidly growing global technology and renewables sectors, as opposed to the hugely capital-intensive fossil fuels industry, dominated by big overseas players whose actions put our - much more important - tourism sector at risk, or the increasingly risky dairy sector, whose oversize mortgages are likely to cause considerable problems now that China's stockpilers are failing to keep up their frenzied buying, Europe is eliminating it's longstanding production limits next year, and this new - apparently quite palatable - synthetic milk that I can't remember the name of, begins to take a chunk out of the low end market.

I think this honest change of heart is great to see from NZ's largest business Lobby, and should be welcomed rather than spurned. Because we're all in this together, right?