Saturday, April 09, 2011

So much for "closing the gap"

Remember "closing the gap with Australia"? National made this a core part of its election platform in 2008, challenging the then-Labour government over the difference in living standards between New Zealand and Australia. They continued this rhetoric after being elected, promising that the gap would be closed. Then, once in power, they did nothing, and in fact pursued labour market policies designed to widen the gap by lowering kiwi wages. And now, National is promoting those lower wages as a selling point:

The fundamental competition is for capital, including Australian capital, he said, and over the next few years New Zealand's advantages would become more apparent.

"One is the wage differential. We have a workforce that is better educated, just as productive and 30 per cent cheaper," he said.

(Emphasis added)

So, rather than "closing the gap", National is supporting the same thing it always has: a low-wage, low-skill economy, designed to deliver cheap peons (and therefore higher profits) to foreign businesses.