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    Jim Anderton
    Jobs : the no.1 election issue

    from The Jobs Letter No.103 / 17 July 1998

    anderton.gif - 29367 Bytes Alliance Leader JIM ANDERTON outlines how he would make a difference on jobs.


    There needs to be a plan to lift employment levels and that plan will only be designed and implemented or inspired by the Government of the country acting as a catalyst. The private sector doesn't have any individual interest in doing it - even though its for its own good - because no individual on their own can afford to lift everything to the point where it is to their good.

    The Government can do lots of things. For example, when Ruth Richardson cut a thousand million dollars out of the incomes to the poorest New Zealanders in 1991 that flattened the economy stone dead like it had been hit by a sledge hammer. The reason for that was that most of that thousand million dollars was being spent by poor people in their own communities. It was spent on food, clothes, paint, shoes ... and the local community benefited. So that shows you the dramatic impact that Governments can have.

    The question is: how does a Government get involved more positively in job creation? The first thing is that the Government has to be prepared to invest in jobs.

  • The Alliance will create an economic development fund that supports a Ministry of Economic Development and Employment. We want to see a Ministry developed that is associated with a Minister of Employment. The Minister of Employment, at the moment, simply announces the unemployment figures ... basically that's all he or she does. Unless you have a development programme that goes with the Employment Ministry, all you're doing is watching. So we want a Ministry of Development and Employment and we want resources for that Ministry.

    " Unless you have a development programme that goes with the Employment Ministry, all you're doing is watching...."

    The first resource would be an economic development fund that would be accessible to local communities to develop sustainable jobs on the basis of the nature of their economy, and the opportunities that that economy presents.

    So those jobs will be different in various parts of the country. For example, in Northland, one of the potential job opportunities will be training young Maori apprentice carpenters and builders to build the houses that they desperately need up there.

    Investment in housing in the North will pay dividends both socially, in terms of the quality of the housing, and you will create jobs at the same time. These jobs would add value and improve the economic base of the community because people are working - they are being paid wages instead of being on the dole.

    The government has got to invest in New Zealand for the long term because most market investment is for the short-term - it's only to get a return on shareholders funds this year. Only governments can position themselves to invest in the long-term future of the country because they should have a long-term view.

  • There needs to be an integrated programme that looks at the infrastructure of New Zealand as an integrated whole in terms of employment opportunities.

    Closing down services actually closes down the communities. It makes them less and less viable. Every time you close a service in a small community you make it less viable and you force that community into the large centers, where you have to wait even longer to get into hospital and the crush to get jobs is even greater and the alienation from your roots is deeper.

    There are three elements to this - national, regional, and local. The principle we're basing this new direction on is a European model.

    New Zealand has been following a kind of New Right model that comes out of the monetarist schools of Chicago. That's a minimalist government model that elevates the market to the arbiter of everything. What it says is that whatever the market deals you ... that's the best thing. What it says to regions is that if some region of New Zealand is failing badly, let it fail. Because the market says that's the way it is ... that's life and just get real and get on with it.

  • The European model says that where you have weak regions which under the market are left to rot, you actively strengthen the regions. The Europeans believe they cannot have a strong Europe if they have weak regions within Europe. So they have deliberately gone to the weak regions and they have invested heavily in those regions.

    " Why would a private sector corporation go and invest in a region that is dying? It's not going to do that. But if the Government says that we're not going to let this region die, and we're going to invest here ... the private sector will follow. ."

  • So the regional approach also means intervention, and that means that the government invests. It's not a matter of picking winners it's a matter of planning for winners. And you have to do it with the private sector, because the private sector is important - there's a partnership here.

    We've got a mixed economy - the public sector won't do it on its own - but the private sector won't do it unless the public sector shows some interest. Why would a private sector corporation go and invest in a region that is dying? It's not going to do that. But if the Government says that we're not going to let this region die, and we're going to invest here ... the private sector will follow.

    The economic development fund would have, as its administrative arm, a "peoples-bank". we would re-establish the Postbank through the Post Office. Funds would be allocated on an approved basis via employment/economic development fund commissioners or representatives of each region. These people would be responsible for assessing what's happening in their own regions and working with their communities to bring forward the potential projects that were to be funded.

  • From that capital budget will come investment in all the areas of education, health, pest eradication and all that starts to build the base of New Zealand from the local community level. But you have to invest in it to make it happen. Just wishing it will happen won't be enough.
    Source - Interview with Jim Anderton by The Jobs Letter July 1999

    The Alliance View on Jobs

  • The Alliance believes that full employment has to be the aim of economic policy. This is not just about any old job, mac job, odd job or dead-end job. It means satisfying and socially useful work at an increasing standard of well-being.

  • Moving away from our present dependence on exports of crude commodities gives us the best hope of reaching and maintaining full employment. Slowly and surely, the mobilisation of the renewable resources of the regions by New Zealanders for New Zealanders will transform the New Zealand economy.

  • Many ideas for new work opportunities go to waste for lack of assistance, expertise or finance. The Alliance will empower local communities to take back their own economic futures:

    —Housing in Northland

    —Venture capital for establishing new technology industries in the regions of New Zealand (Scottish Development Agency, Irish Development Agency, European development model)

    —Pest eradication in our forests and agricultural-horticultural areas.

  • The Alliance will establish an Economic Development Fund through which it will dispense Government backed loans for employment rich, environmentally sustainable new development projects either communally or privately owned.

  • Community Commissioners for Jobs will be appointed and co-ordinated by Regional Development Agencies to work flexibly with local communities to find and develop employment opportunities. They will motivate, identify opportunities, provide advice and help in the development of suitable projects.

  • Local development projects could be proposed and developed by Jobs Commissioners, tribal groups, local authorities, industry groupings or communities.

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