Don Brash's 2025 Taskforce made a range of recommendations about how our economy could catch up with Australia.
Its ideas, which included slashing Government spending met with widespread condemnation.
Murray Horton: Secretary/Organiser for the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) is one of a range of New Zealanders approached by nzherald.co.nz to share their thoughts on how we can shorten the gap.
Murray Horton, the Secretary/Organiser for the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA).
Let's leave aside the question of all the ways in which Australia presents a very undesirable model for New Zealand to follow. CAFCA's issue is foreign control and the 2025 Taskforce includes in its recommendations that "a much more liberal [foreign investment] regime should be introduced".
Here Australia does provide some positive guidelines - its Foreign Investment Review Board has the guts to, occasionally, put the national interest first and actually refuse some applications. For this it gets pilloried in the media as "obstructionist".
When was the last time that happened with our rubberstamp Overseas Investment Office? Australia has, or recently has had, restrictions on ownership of major sectors of its economy: banks, the media and airlines.
New Zealand has let Australian airlines fly domestic routes for years - but Australia is not silly enough to reciprocate, as Air New Zealand learnt the hard way.
Australia has compulsory superannuation, meaning that it has built up a huge pool of funds available for investment. Australia still has awards and stronger unions (despite the best attempts of successive governments to bust them). Most obviously, Australia pays better wages, which is the main reason that Kiwis flock there.
So, the way for NZ to catch up with Australia is to reverse the damage inflicted by a quarter of a century of relentless experimentation by our free market fundamentalists -the Taleban of capitalism.
New Zealand should restore decent wages and conditions and get rid of the legislative "architecture" of Rogernomics. It should restore the social safety net that has been shot full of holes and realise that the country's greatest asset is its people and invest in them properly.
In areas such as health and education, the Government should use superannuation and savings funds to invest in the rundown infrastructure and services of this country - not to play in the casino of the global financial system.
The Government's obsessive-compulsive urge to commodify, corporatise, privatise and monetise everything should be ended.
A foreign investment regime should be invented, where the national interest is put first, last, and foremost. Controls on capital movements into and out of the country should also be introduced.
It is New Zealanders that are doing the favour to foreign investors, not the other way around - they are guests in our home and must abide by our rules. New Zealanders must be the owners of our own country, not tenants in a branch economy.
None of this is "xenophobia" or "isolationism". It is simply an assertion that New Zealand will engage with the world on its own terms. It is the same principled self-interest that saw New Zealand go nuclear free and lay down its terms for engaging with the world's most powerful country. The sky didn't fall, and the world came to respect our right to do so.
We're still waiting for the world, and Australia, to catch up with us.