INDEPENDENT NEWS

West Coast Offer: Money Won't Fix This Mess.

Published: Tue 2 May 2000 01:50 PM
"The Government's $120m offer to the West Coast is a scheme designed to fail" said Dr Brendan Moyle, a senior lecturer in economics at Massey's Albany campus. The government is not offering funding for economic development. It is using taxpayer's money to cover up its premature act of job-destruction. "The government has not been able to identify feasible job-creation projects on the West Coast" explained Dr Moyle. "As a result, the West Coast communities are being set up to take the fall." The trust fund is not an economic instrument for growth. It is a political device to distance the Government from the scheme's expected failure. "If all the West Coast ever needed was an injection of $120m, why didn't anyone else do this before?" asked Dr Moyle.
It is ironic that the parties forming the coalition government campaigned on employment issues. Before the election, the closures of the Bendon factories in New Zealand were an issue for the Deputy Prime Minister. Once in Government, similar job losses in the West Coast were instead, actively supported. A viable timber industry, underpinning several West Coast communities was sacrificed. Neither the scientific support for Timberlands nor the economic effects of the cancelled contracts was analysed.
"Job losses were a certainty" explained Dr Moyle, "but the tragedy is that they were unnecessary". The government had only been in power for days when it broke its first election pledge. This was the priority it placed on employment. Right through the election, the public was told that Labour and the Alliance supported full employment policies. "Deliberate job destruction on the West Coast hardly fits the bill" observed Dr Moyle. The government had the option to compromise on the Timberland's beech scheme and passed. Now taxpayers and West Coasters are meeting the cost.
If the offer is accepted, then the West Coast needs to add one more condition. Acceptance should depend on the Government identifying where the jobs are going to be created. Until the government spells out the number of jobs their offer will create, accepting the offer will let the government distance itself from the inevitable job losses.
AUTHOR DETAILS: Brendan Moyle M.Sc. Ph.D. Senior Lecturer in Economics Massey University (Albany) Private Bag 102 904 Auckland Ph.: 09 443 9799 ext 9472 Fax.: 09 441 8177 E-mail: B.J.Moyle@massey.ac.nz Ph.: 021 665 781 after hours
Dr Moyle has qualifications in economics and zoology. He has publications in extinction modelling, conservation biology, wildlife trade and the economics of sustainable use and conservation. He has undertaken bio-economic studies on the African elephant, Australian parrots and crocodilians. He has also described several new species of false-scorpions.

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