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Opposition inquiry into 'manufacturing crisis'

Four opposition parties are preparing to hold their first round of public submissions into the state of the country’s manufacturing.

Public submissions are now being taken ahead of the first day of hearings, which is likely to take place at Parliament in the last week of January – just before Parliament sits for the first time this year.

Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and Mana are holding the inquiry into what they label a “crisis in manufacturing” after National’s decision last year to block a motion to refer the issue to a select committee inquiry.

Labour leader David Shearer says manufacturing is in trouble. He claims 40,000 jobs have been lost and more than 1000 manufacturing companies have closed their doors in the last four years.

“This is a crisis that is leading to more unemployment, lower export earnings, increased dependency on imports, higher international debt, and, ultimately, a poorer New Zealand.

"The crisis is hammering communities from South Auckland to Bluff, from Kawerau to Greymouth,” Mr Shearer says.

Last August New Zealand First leader Winston Peters called on cross-party support for his members’ bill to amend the Reserve Bank rules to boost the “struggling export sector” and focus less on inflation control.

“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,” Mr Peters says.

Green party co-leader Dr Russel Norman says the country’s future is in smart, green high-value manufacturing but government policy is needed to achieve it.

“New Zealand urgently needs economic policies which support export-led growth. It is the only path to build a lasting prosperity and escape our international indebtedness.

A report, collating the oral and written submissions, will be published soon after the inquiry.

More by Blair Cunningham

Comments and questions

Could the so-called inquiry, by political opposition parties, be the first joke of 2013? The track record of all of them and their face-saving theories on the economy appears to have been dashed all around the world. The so-called green high-value manufacturing for exports has been exposed, as the good ideas that crashed on impact, by so-called other savvy nations.

"Step up, right now, all those enterprising businesspeople in the Labour Party caucus, and articulate your vision as to what's needed, based on your own experiences of being self-employed."

Yeah, I guessed as much.

If there is any intellectual grunt behind this committee (which I doubt), their conclusion will be to reduce minimum wage. Somehow, I do not expect that conclusion from this group.

Give the these parties their due, at least they recognise there is a problem and seek ideas/answers to deal with it.

Manufacturing is being decimated and systmatrically destroyed in the current econmic climate, primarily through a combination of free-market access for all goods.
Goods ever cheaper because of rising dollar, which results in exports being ever dearer/less competitive in world markets. We export blue-collar jobs as a consequence.

I think these people are asking the question: do we as a country want this to continue or not?

It seriously worries me that these people, the opposition, see the problem but my government continues to deny there is any issue to address.

What a joke! Look at these parties (and I doubt any of them could actually organise a party). Greens-let's just print more money, Winston First and the ignorant illiterate Hone Party.... What chance they could come up with something vaguely resembling intelligent and sensible - zippo! Oxygen thieves to a man.

Surely the headline should read “Opposition manufacturing a crisis”.

Shearer claims "1000 manufacturing companies have closed their doors in the last four years." Name them, David. To Labour, Greens, NZ First, Mana: if you're not part of the solution then you are the problem. Give us solutions. Any mug can highlight the problem.

Hear, hear JP. Yeah, Mr Shearer, name them please.

What's the bet Shearer has been set up once again by two factions within his party about the numbers.

Probably just like his Mr Rufus Painter and the GCSB tape he still hasn't produced. Where's the tape, David?

Leave the populist rhetoric and propaganda out of your speeches. It only makes you splutter, stammer and choke trying to be credible spouting such nonsense. Just keep to the facts. Now, about that GCSB tape and the naming of these 1000 businesses...

Manufacturers, like any other group or individual, are entitled to confidence in the system that they are bound by. Maybe that's why they have closed their doors or moved elsewhere? Come on Labour, how about an inquiry into why there is no faith in the system (politicians). Hey, make it a hui and include all political parties.

Maybe Labour should take a look at themselves. It's their own unionist people who have been stirring up trouble for years with their ever-increasingly stupid demands on employers.

It is not the unionists who causing the problems in New Zealand. That is just the easy way out - blame the unions. All the unions ask for are fair day's pay and repect of people. That is not a lot to ask for.

Total and complete bollocks! Just ask the shareholders of Ports of Auckland Ltd about the multimillion dollars of business sabotage deliberately inflicted on Auckland as they attempted to hold the port and the city to ransom until their demands for 1950s work practises were met.

It's obvious the greedy union-bashing John Key fan boys are back from their holidays. I wonder how they are all going to take it when he bails before the next election? Oh, the sense of betrayal they will feel. Better have the kool aid ready. In fact, best to drink it now.

We never went away, we worked to keep freeloaders like you in the bludging lifestyle you have become accustomed to. Seems you don't like the cold steel of truth and reality.

OMG, freeloaders and bludgers. The arrogance is unbelievable. I'm self-employed, actually, and have had numerous companies since 1988 and even been an exporter. What have you ever done? Here's the lesson... Don't assume we are all from the same cookie cutter Holden Commodore V8 driving, spa pooling, private school wannabe, National party born-to-rule brigade as you. Some of us see the world in a balanced common sense way and understand the mix of free market and socialist policies that are required to operate a successful progressive society delivering across the board.

Running numerous companies since 1988. What an indictment. You sound like you couldn't run a bath. Also, your self-praise is certainly no recommendation for a dreamer like you. Just get a life, and get a job.

You sound like a right w*nker.

The loss of manufacturing capacity is a big problem. Replacing a sophisticated economy that can manufacture high value-added exports for one that exports ever-increasing volumes of one commodity (milk solids) is surely not the pathway to long-term prosperity and well-paid jobs.

One of NZ's other major exports seems to be former Labour Party apparatchiks to the United Nations.

Let's just hope they don't send her home wanting some of the billions back that she has apparently wasted while there, claiming "faulty goods".

Ye gods, what a horrid thought!

Well done, Robert. That makes two people in this train who actually recognise there is a structural problem in the economy.

The rest seem to be oblivious to the issue and choose to play politics.

Yes, unions are a part of the problem, but so is free trade, letting in all sorts of products that we used to make here without generating the corresponding right of access to the partner country. And further, the ever-rising exchange rate inhibits manufacturing export growth.

Those who mock here need to look to where their income comes from. If in any way it is dependent on provision of goods or services to the blue-collar sector, then be sure that that income is at risk.

Look at Greece and Spain. The blue-collar workers are unemployed, unproductive and a drain on wefare and government coffers. Unless there is some recognition we have a problem here we will be with them sooner than you think.

Do you know what you are saying? By your comments you are making it up. How can unions be part of the problem? How is advocating for workers a problem? It's a human right. You mention Greece and simplistically make it sound like the blue-collar workers are causing their problem. Obviously, you are totally ignorant about how Greece got to this situation. Suffice to say if the blue-collar workers had any part in bleeding that country dry it was a very small part, yet they are paying the price. It's all right to say 'unless we recognise that problem, blah, blah, blah'... What's your solution? Ban all blue-collar workers? You are a joke.

Wow, somebody touched a nerve! Simply because they have a different opinion to you, that doesn't necessarily make them a joke or ignorant. I tend to agree with his position but I'm not about to refer to you as ignorant and a joke. Your approach doesn't exactly sit well with the concepts of democracy and free speech. Perhaps you might be happier in the Eastern block? Just saying that maybe you'd be happier elsewhere.

Thanks. All this confirms there are "loons" on both sides. But reality is that we do have an issue to address.

Paul, you completely miss the point.

My issue is that we have a crisis in manufacturing. That is a fact (I am a manufacturer employing 30 people and it's as tough now as it was in 1987). At least the opposition recognise that and I give them credit for that. The party I voted for, National, don't which is appalling from my perspective.
For that you should give me credit.

My comments about Greece was a reflection on the fact that unless the blue-collar worker is employed then the we can look forward to a Greece situation in NZ - that is a potential consequence of not addressing the crisis.

Clearly, you are hyper-sensitive unionist as bad as the people who deny there is a problem and denegate the opposition for highlighting the issue that was the import of my comment.

I can give them the answers they are looking for right now and save a bunch of dollars and energy in the process:
* Rise of production capabilities in low-wage economies.
* Shift by NZ-domiciled businesses offshore to be more price competitive.
* Higher transport costs from NZ due to higher oil prices.
* Persistently high NZ dollar rate vs USD.
* Lower global demand due to recessions and economic stagnation.
* Under-investment in human capital and infrastructure locally.
* Reduced barriers to international trade (eg, internet) for direct purchase from offshore.
* Strong local labour legislation out of balance with international standards.

On Planet Key there is no manufacturing crisis.