David Clendon

Productivity gains or party politics?

by David Clendon

This week the Productivity Commission has been given its first task.  The Commission came into being late one Saturday night last December, with the house under urgency, and the Greens the only party in opposition to it.

In the first reading speech I said of the proposed Commission :

“It could reinforce outmoded, destructive, and well-discredited neo-liberal approaches to economic growth… a new bureaucracy… that could become little more than a publicly funded think tank for ACT Party policy and the advancement of that policy.”

The Labour party, which supported the Commision’s establishment, has rather belatedly realised the error of its ways.

There’s not a lot of satisfaction (in this case anyway) of being proved right!  The appointment of former Act candidate Graham Scott to the commission, and the terms of reference for the first enquiry, speak volumes about the agenda playing out here.

The conclusion the Commission is clearly being encouraged to come to is that getting cheaper housing depends on us opening up the way to more urban sprawl, with the new outlying developments ‘served’ by motorways. The cabinet papers released by Rodney Hide last month spell out very clearly his  analysis of housing  unaffordability, so why go through the expensive farce of asking the Commission for advice?

I asked a panel of business people at  SBN’s  ‘Sustainability is Mainstream’ forum this week for their thoughts on improving productivity in the New Zealand economy.  The responses included more  investment and commitment to science, research and technology; staff engagement programmes  that create a positive company culture where employees know they are valued and listened to; encouraging health and fitness through good nutrition and exercise, so people not only live better lives but also become more productive.

Pretty sensible ideas, already proven in practice by successful companies.  No bogus research projects by a politically influenced commission required.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by David Clendon on Fri, April 1st, 2011   

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