Primary V's Secondary Industries?Friday, Feb 9, 2001
Manufacturer Assn head Simon Carlaw has stepped into the commodity bashing ring again with his claim
that "Put simply, Kiwis need to make more of what the rest of the world really wants to buy." (see
news item pages)
It seems unnecessary for the Manufacturers Assn to find fault with the commodity aspect of pastoral
production by painting farm commodity trade as the devils undoing of the NZ economy. Particularly
when NZ secondary industries also find it very hard to define "'what the rest of the world really
wants to buy"
To suggest that the NZ farming industry would willingly become custodians of a nice, clean and green,
organic, theme park shows a level of ignorance of the structure of farming and his own inability
to sort the realities of "green" production from volume production of marketable quality food and
His focus should be on providing leadership to the 2000 manufacturers who seem to have lost courage
to develop in their own market environments. If commodities products from NZ are so cheap, where is
the manufacturing investment to add value to NZ's existing resources?
Mr Carlaw couldn't be suggesting that hand made NZ carpets would be a better economic result than the
sale of carpet wool as a commodity or that knitters cooperatives should be formed for the production
of specialist garments.
Perhaps the new Business New Zealand will have the wit to recognise that the producers of those - in
his mind - failing commodities, have got of their butts and have pushed for new structures, attracted
new investment and applied new technologies to their production and marketing processes.
Progress that has been made, against the protestations of the manufacturers and their fellow travellers,
the Business Round Table's pompous predictions of false investment in a sunset industry.
Mr Carlaw should face the reality that the resolution of NZ's economic weakness lies not in the destruction
by nit picking about the imperfections of primary production, but to see his way clear to
provide leadership to a secondary industry that has grown timid and cautious because it failed to
learn how to progress without granny state holding its hand.
Good farming and lets be thankful that there are primary producers.