Shane Jones’ arrogant assertion that businesses struggling for workers should just invest in automation, rather than look for skilled immigration, is just the latest in a long list of unhelpful suggestions from an out-of-touch Government, National Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
Speaking at the National Party’s Lower North Island Regional Conference in Masterton this morning, Mr Goldsmith says business confidence is falling because the Ardern Peters Government has no positive economic plan and its leading Ministers demonstrate little understanding of business realities.
“Mr Jones might not ‘lose any sleep’ over firms struggling to find workers, but Kiwifruit growers, for example, certainly are,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“If there was a robot on the market that could reliably and efficiently pick the fruit, they’d use it, Mr Jones.
“The previous Government invested substantially in a Regional Research Institute based in Tauranga to advance progress in robotics in horticulture, to follow that example. But it will take years to perfect.
“Yet Mr Jones stands up and blusters away that we have too many immigrants, he doesn’t want them, and business should just lump it and invest in automation.
“This follows Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway’s suggestion that firms worried about the labour market reforms just aren’t resilient enough, and Economic Development Minister David Parker’s well-known contempt for farmers.
“Meantime the Budget showed plenty of spending, much of it poor quality, plenty of borrowing, increased taxes, and virtually nothing about how as a country we’ll earn more.
“Aside from an R&D tax break, which is likely to be a poor substitute for Callaghan grants and will be no use to start-up companies, there is nothing that is pro-growth.
“What businesses see is a Government that has been piling on anti-growth policies and working against them non-stop since the election.
‘They are down on oil and gas exploration, most farming, international investment, decent regional highways, 90 day trials, welfare sanctions that get people into work, faster resource management decisions, and tax policies that reward people for working hard.
‘New Zealand needs a Government that works with companies, not against them, one that is serious about economic growth.”