Is Mr Key Living In Lalal Land? - Radio Live Column

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 14:15

Sometimes you are stopped in your tracks and left momentarily speechless by things you hear or read. Prime Minster John Key’s comments this week about our seriously overvalued dollar are a case in point.

Mr Key told a reporter that life was good for New Zealand consumers because having currency speculators push the value of our dollar towards parity with the US dollar was a positive sign for the country.

Is Mr Key living in Lala Land? When you look at the facts then the answer is a resounding yes.

It’s time all New Zealanders woke up to the PR spin the Prime Minister is putting on his Government’s terrible handling of the economy.

Mr Key has glossed over some simple economic realities when he made his seriously misguided comments.

He is talking about the consumption of goods –people buying cheap TVs and the like – which are largely manufactured overseas and imported into the country. Meanwhile, Mr Key and his Government are ignoring the plight of our manufacturing and export sectors.

We are a nation that has historically relied on manufacturing to build a strong economic base. Nothing has changed in that regard.

But the high New Zealand dollar is hurting Kiwi manufacturers and exporters to such an extent that many have closed their doors for good.

National’s approach to dealing with the overvalued dollar is to do nothing while adopting the classic head-in-the-sand stance – or as Mr Key likes to bluster ‘there is nothing to see here’.

Well we are happy to tell Mr Key something for nothing. There is no way to increase the prosperity of the country, and make life better for New Zealanders, if we don’t tackle our overvalued dollar. That way we go right to the heart of the matter to boost our manufacturing sector, create more jobs and real wealth.

Sticking with National’s approach of ignoring problems in the hope they will go way will see a continuation of big job losses such as those either announced or flagged at companies such as Mainzeal, Telecom, Solid Energy, Summit Wool Spinners, Transpacific Industries, Geon Group, ANZ, NZ Post, and APN.

Nearly all manufacturers closing up shop, or shedding staff, mention the high dollar as a contributing factor in their decision. And even manufacturers still in business have voiced serious concerns over our dollar.

Mr Key’s comments confirm that he thinks New Zealanders would rather have cheap consumer goods than jobs so they can feed their families and enjoy a reasonable standard of living.

That is no way for a responsible Government to act but sadly it’s the reality with National and its coalition partners.