Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Opposition parties call for Minister for Manufacturing

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said innovation in manufacturing would take advantage on new technologies like 3D printing and create well-paid jobs. Photo / Warren Buckland
Green Party co-leader James Shaw said innovation in manufacturing would take advantage on new technologies like 3D printing and create well-paid jobs. Photo / Warren Buckland

More companies such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare are needed and setting up a Minister for Manufacturing will help that happen, the Green Party says.

Labour has supported an announcement by the Greens to establish the position, policy that has also been welcomed by industry.

The minister would be inside Cabinet to represent the interests of manufacturers, and be supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said innovation in manufacturing would take advantage on new technologies like 3D printing and create well-paid jobs.

"We hear more from National about deep sea oil drilling and dairy farming than we do about clean-tech and high value-added manufacturing.

"Manufacturing has few advocates within the Government. Other sectors, which represent much smaller contributions to the national economy, like racing, have ministers fighting for them in Government.

"New Zealand needs more companies like Temperzone, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Goodnature."

ManufacturingNZ executive director Catherine Beard welcomed the announcement, saying the role would increase public understanding of the sector.

The New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association chief executive Dieter Adam said manufacturing had been undervalued and not well understood by successive governments.

"Manufacturing faces significant changes in the future that will act as threats, as well as huge opportunities for New Zealand if we can get ahead, such as Industry 4.0, automation and other technologies like 3D printing.

"A more focused view of manufacturing, through a Minister for Manufacturing, will help develop more effective responses to these changes."

Labour's employment spokesman Grant Robertson said the idea was interesting and one his party could support.

Robertson, also the shadow finance minister, has led his party's Future of Work Commission, a two-year project that will inform Labour's new economic development policies.

The fact that a huge number of blue- and white-collar jobs will be lost to robotics, automisation and computerisation is a major reason for the project, and Robertson has said that addressing these changes will mean a radical change of direction for Labour.

- NZ Herald

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