Yes it is a tough world in the airline industry. Yes the New Zealand dollar is high, making it extremely difficult for NZ to compete on a number of areas. But are we to keep haemorrhaging skilled workers, all in the name of profit? Call me naïve and I will accept that label, but can we not see the bigger picture; a future where New Zealand has the necessary skill-pool of workers in order to hold to the claim that we are a modern productive nation with a highly skilled workforce?
There have been many examples of late, re the loss of skilled jobs to outsourcing and the like. The airline industry is but one of them. The money crunchers claim that we cannot compete with lower overseas businesses. It may also be a matter of scale. If we accept that the playing field is not level, then we have to make some hard decisions. New Zealand prides itself on the fact that we do not subsidise our industrial base, like other countries do. As a result we have become extremely competitive at producing what the world desires in a narrow range of products, exemplified primarily by those producers in the agricultural and other primary industries.
We have seen the loss of a broad base in our industrial sector. Is this trend going to continue until we are nothing more than a ‘food basket’ for the world? OK, if the jobs were there in the cities and if the wages and salaries were high. The fact is that this is not so. New Zealand is losing much of what we had built up over the past century; some of it in the name of economic and political policy. As a nation we face some hard choices. Do we carry on down the journey we have been on for a few decades and enjoy the cheap products or do we look at the bigger picture of a nation that looks after all of its citizens, even if that means having to pay more for those daily ‘needs and wants?’
Can we turn back the clock or have we come too far? Are we now merely a nation that responds to the needs of larger industrial conglomerates, many of which are far bigger than nation states? Can we work for a better future for New Zealanders and yet still engage in the world economic order; one that cares little for the needs of the ordinary New Zealander. It will take brave politicians to challenge this ‘new order.’ Somehow, I do not see such individuals in the present government and to a large degree in those who ‘would be Government.’ Those who know what I am portraying are unfortunately in the minority simply because the vast majority do not see beyond ‘getting though the current week.’ Understandable, yet very worrying. The Air New Zealand example is just the tip of the massive iceberg heading our way.