The Government’s Minister in Charge of Many Things, Stephen Joyce, has become repetitive in his claim that those who oppose his economic agenda are simply anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-science, anti-New Zealand making its way in the world. This claim, most recently recounted in relation to the dirty deal being proposed to increase problem gambling in Auckland, is in equal parts irritating and nonsensical.
Mr Joyce insists that opposition to his 19th century ideas of ‘growth’, based on more mining, more extraction, more road-building, more export of high volume / low value commodities, is contrary to the wellbeing of New Zealanders. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is extraordinary that Mr Joyce is not recognising what smart New Zealand business people and others have long since worked out: that ‘business as usual’ is not an option if we want to build a sustainable and resilient 21st century economy that reflects our social and environmental aspirations.
A little tinkering around the edges, splashing a bit of greenwash about, will not deliver the future that is within New Zealand’s grasp. We need courageous political leadership to help affect a fundamental shift, a managed transition to a low-carbon, high value-added economy, with a much higher level of self-reliance in basic necessities, while leveraging our natural advantages and the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of our business sector (not least of all our SMEs).
While primary production is important and will remain so, we will not achieve our collective objectives through producing ever larger quantities of milk powder and pine logs. Seeking to extend our ability to feed our oil addiction for a decade or two more is no substitute for investing heavily in developing alternatives to a carbon intensive economy, especially at a time when there is massive demand internationally for solutions that recognise that economic wellbeing is utterly dependent on maintaining environmental integrity.