January 18, 2006
New Zealand’s business conﬁdence has plunged to its lowest in 20 or 35 years, depending on your news source.
It highlights a few things for me: ﬁrst, the Muldoon era was actually better for business conﬁdence; and secondly, economic mismanagement by this administration has led to this moment.
The warning signs were there long ago, in the 1990s. And I have said so for the last ﬁve years, if not more. The government was easily fooled by the amount of foreign direct investment and the success of two men: the late Sir Peter Blake, for guiding the America’s Cup victory, and Peter Jackson, ﬁlm-maker extraordinaire.
Tourist dollars and FDI covered the fact we weren’t producing sufﬁcient graduates in science, innovating in new industries, or seeking to improve our national brand—warning signs the last government gave in 1999 with its ‘Bright Future’ programme. Partisanship saw to the programme’s cancellation. So much for patriotism.
Instead, we continued plugging a clean, green image as a country, which is all well and good—but that was merely an evolution of the image of a primary products’ exporter. What of our secondary products, our intellectual property?
In the 1990s, I said that the nation brand should be about innovation and independence, and even isolation—which can be a good thing if you want the purest inspiration. The letter i.
Branding is the way out—both for the nation and for individual businesses.
Yet I have seen very little happen. The government tells me there is a ‘New Zealand, new thinking’ campaign, which I had urged the export body to adopt even during my university days. That’s over 10 years ago. But a campaign only works if the internal audience knows of it ﬁrst. The internal audience does not: the average Kiwi in the street hasn’t a clue.
Neither, it seems, does the government.
But short memories and in-ﬁghting will, no doubt, ensure that even the opposition remains ignorant to all of this. permalink
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