A bunch of can’ts holding us back

Like Boris Johnson in the UKSteven Joyce has explained in an op-ed piece about why we are struggling in New Zealand, basically because a bunch of can’ts keep stopping us:

The people who say “we want jobs” but then in the next breath say “but you can’t do that … you can’t build that there … you can’t expand that … you can’t explore for that there … you can’t live here … you can’t invest in property here – you just can’t do that!”

And very quickly we start limiting our options. Through the 2000s, as a country, we progressively boxed ourselves in more and more to depend on fewer and fewer industries based on what the “can’ts” said. At the end of it the government of the day was pretty much down to talking only about two of the ingredients – skills training and subsidising entrepreneurs that don’t use resources (the so-called clean-tech sector) – as the bits the “can’ts” were most comfortable with. The rest was off the table.

Lots of Can’ts.

The irony is a lot of the “can’t” behaviour is designed to protect a Kiwi way of life that wouldn’t be here if those who say “you can’t” had applied their rules 50 or 100 years ago.

The reality is you don’t build an economy by lopping off an arm and both legs before you start. A small country like New Zealand has to make the best of all its natural advantages to lift incomes and give more people more chances to make it while staying right here.

We therefore need to stop the endless debate about which industry will save us and focus on all industries where New Zealand has a natural advantage. That’s why the Government is implementing and further developing its 120-point action plan that will help build a stronger, more competitive economy.

That doesn’t mean you don’t take care. Big developments need to have the right environmental protections and mitigations, industry needs good health and safety law, and foreign investment should be sought where it adds value. Ensuring those safeguards are in place is a far healthier approach than just saying no.

We live in a world increasingly without borders – at least not as our grandparents knew them. People these days can base their skills, their capital and their ideas just about anywhere. They don’t have to be in New Zealand.

So when we think about the “you can’ts” we need to think about the mobility of people and money. Each time we say “you can’t” carries a cost. That doesn’t mean we should always say “yes”, but we do need to carefully weigh up the consequences of saying no.

And we should learn to stop listening to people who in the one breath chant “more jobs, more jobs” and then in the next breath say “but don’t do that, or that, or that”.

We need to encourage the development of all of our opportunities if we are to prosper.

I have long held the view that when people say “you can’t” what they really mean is they can’t.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.