New Zealand under siege


Guess which Member of Parliament said this? (Answer at end of article)

From The Exporter, July 1983.


The Closer Economic Relations with Australia (CER) Agreement has implications which go far beyond trade, says X.

"These should have been thoroughly explained to and accepted by New Zealanders before the Government contemplated signing the Agreement".

Put simply, X says CER pre-empts future New Zealand governments pursuing certain strategies as the Agreement is designed to enforce the rationalisation and re-location of industry and resources within and between New Zealand and Australia.

It is logical to restructure the economy according to a plan, identifying the potential losers among both capital and labour.

But alas, X says, the momentum of CER has been unleashed without any such forward planning.

"New Zealand desperately needs an economic strategy which is directed towards increasing employment opportunities, raising the level of investment in the economy, and identifying new industries which will enhance our prospects for economic growth. CER is not a substitute for, but rather a barrier to the formulation of such a strategy.

"While it can be expected to encourage a shake-out of our secondary industries, from which a loss of jobs and moneys invested will result, little can be expected in the way of stimulation of new growth industries and the creation of significant numbers of jobs.

"Any substantial new investment is likely to be foreign investment, further weakening the control New Zealanders have over their own economy.

"The economic weapons previously available to protect and promote fledgling industries against Australian competition, namely import protection, export incentives, and even in some cases regional development assistance we have agreed to phase out for all time.

"Free trade forces have been released which will make it difficult for any companies other than the already strong in both countries to make headway. Their progress is likely to be at the expense of smaller enterprise on both sides of the Tasman".

X also says that New Zealand’s economic sovereignty has been severely dented by the Agreement. A sizeable portion of our economic independence has been traded for an unspecified and unguaranteed share of the Australian market. The impetus created by closer trade ties seems bound to spill over into other areas.

Already at the transtasman business conference in Sydney in April discussion of the so-called "second generation" issues began. The process initiated by closer trade links is predicted to lead inexorably to a customs union, a common currency, to broaden harmony between the economic policies of the two states and eventually into some form of political unity.

"Surely issues of this nature should be resolved only after full consultation and public debate? Should not the first step down that road to closer ties have been accompanied by a fuller explanation to the public of its implications?

"It is not too late now to call both governments to review CER, to take the public into their confidence and to act to curb a process which on present trends seems likely to spell disaster for New Zealand’s secondary industry and to impose severe constraints on our sovereignty in the long term".


Answer: Helen Clark, MP for Mt Albert.

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