Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Clive Bibby: Maharey has it all wrong - time to tell the truth

Former Labour Cabinet Minister and Vice-Chancellor of Massey University, Steve Maharey, wrote a piece last weekend that should have sent the alarm bells ringing in the corridors of power – see HERE.

Given that it was a holiday weekend, it may have been that no one in the Prime Minister’s Department was reading the daily journals that masquerade as publishers of respectable journalism these days and may have missed it.

But you can bet that those with responsibility for keeping an eye on potentially dangerous material in the media would have been quick to poke Maharey’s offending words under Saint Jacinda’s nose first thing Tuesday morning. On sighting it, she may even have choked on her coffee. It was a shocker.


It would take too long to regurgitate Maharey’s full column in my response, suffice to say that the former Labour front bencher went to great lengths to describe the nation’s economy as underperforming and incapable of supporting the aspirational targets we have grown to believe we are capable of.

He pontificates that our poor economic performance is based on two pillars of the economy that need restructuring.

His rationale for these profound statements goes something like this:

The first is that we host too many tourists that are not spending enough money per head in this country. He implies that we are not marketing our tourism destinations in places where the residents are awash with discretionary funds who, as soon as they know about NZ, will all rush to spend their life’s savings in our country as opposed to doing the same in other competitor tourist spots on the globe.

The second is that our income from our multi-faceted agriculture industry is based on animal production and fish harvesting techniques that are inefficient by design. We end up with too many products of not high enough yield.

He smears the current industries by accusing them of being inept performers compared to our international counterparts - whoever they may be.

In both industries he advocates earning more from less.

He doesn’t know what he is talking about. 

This country survives on trading, often in markets at the other side of the world.

The fact that our standard of living is rated amongst the richest countries on the planet is solely dependent on our exporters having a better product to sell and being able to market it better than our competitors. It follows that the more you sell at these prices, the more we can afford to deliver higher living standards to the whole population of New Zealand. More and better schools and health services. More aged care and handicapped facilities. Better infrastructure, sporting, and leisure facilities.

As the economy grows, we all benefit.


So, why do we have to listen to this rubbish from people who should know better.

Perhaps he is trying to find a way that will justify the draconian measures suggested by his colleagues in the current administration in order to achieve their emissions targets solely by slaughtering 30% of the dairy herd. Or to transfer blame for the collapse of the tourism and hospitality industries away from those who needlessly allowed it to wither on the vine during the harshest lockdown in the world.

It didn’t need to happen that way.

It beggars belief that a former Cabinet Minister in a previous Labour Government would expect us mere mortals to accept his disturbingly false summary of the nation’s recent economic performance on the world stage.

He has the audacity to mistakenly apportion blame for what he describes as “under performance” at the feet of the county’s two main earners of overseas funds who have for decades led the world in their respective fields.

He rambles on about being more efficient and entrepreneurial, suggesting we could have done so much better had we entertained tourists of the type who individually spend more money and produced more from numerically less numbers of genetically superior animals.

Last time l looked, we were already doing both those things And our world leading agricultural scientists have already bred animals which, when fed different diets, expel up to (in some cases) 80% less methane gas.

The reality in truth is somewhat different to the feeble mischaracterisation Maharey offers.

In fact his inability to correctly diagnose the cause of any reduction in earnings from our cornerstone performers is just another example of how out of touch he and his Labour colleagues really are.

Most people will know, having witnessed life under Covid in this country that the destruction of the tourism industry and the sabotage of the agriculture industries ability to take full advantage of record overseas prices are direct results of government’s misguided obsession with both its defence against Covid and its commitment to its Paris agreement emissions reduction targets.

In the case of the Tourism Industry, the self-employed were left to close their doors as government induced lockdowns strangled the industry of its clientele until it lost its ability to function. It became the sacrificial lamb that enabled the Prime Minister to crow about her initial successful elimination policy. Too bad for those who have lost everything.

Similarly, the agriculture industry has watched helpless as the Crown Jewels of our limited high producing grazing land are being sold off to Carbon farmers at a time when we should be using every acre to produce red meat that the world’s insatiable markets demand at prices we have never seen. It makes no sense!

As a past Chancellor of Massey University, one would expect Maharey to at least know something about the true nature of how this nation provides the money to pay for all the welfare and educational facilities that ensure we remain in the top group of functioning democracies in the world.

In case you hadn’t noticed Steve, the only reason we will remain in that group of select performers is if you can persuade your suicidal comrades to take their jack boots off the neck of our two great institutions - ones that you obviously have never worked for.

They wouldn’t have you.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.


Lindsay Mitchell said...

More central planning required. When that fails... more central planning required. Yes, it is scary.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who appointed Maharey.
He and others of the left persuasion, who hold positions in our once great Universities, are responsible for the decline of educational standards in these institutions.
I remember being summoned to the VC's residence on the Massey campus years ago and receiving instructions from the then VC.
I was quite nervous and very respectful of the 'boss' at that time.
Now we have a shambles.

Lesley Stephenson said...

Spoken like a true blue old school farmer. Should we really be using every acre of land possible to produce red meat? A very inefficient way of feeding the masses in my opinion.
When the economy does well we all do well you say.....Really?

Jack Frost said...

SM is symptomatic of this entire Labour connection to the real world.

DrPhil said...

what would you expect from one donkey deep in the dumming down on our once great university system

Clive Bibby said...

Well actually yes Lesley. Certainly if the economy grows, it provides the opportunity for all to share in the benefits of that growth.
And again yes when we are in the unfortunate position of having to produce more (red meat) from our limited land capable of doing that, it makes sense to squeeze as much product out of our dwindling resources with that capacity.
It might be different if other products were capable of earning as much from our overseas markets as red meat currently does but at this moment in time we should flog that option for all its worth.
Name me another export earner with that capacity?

Anonymous said...

Yes Lesley, when the economy does well, we all do well.

To have the education of our future generations dumbed down to a level where all are equal commits us to the level of lowest performer, and we can never rise above the level of those with the least skills. We are better than that and we can and do have industry and people who rise above the rest and help us care for those who need help.

I believe the latter is what will improve outcomes for all in our society and provide us and our descendants the opportunity to live better lives and thank god for it.