People who make excuses for our economic decline say it’s only natural we should be poorer than Australia.
After all, those convict larrikins lucked into a continent-sized treasure chest fair groaning with minerals.
As excuses go, it’s plausible enough. Till your mind flicks to a little pinprick up north and a bit to the left.
Singapore. That micro-state that accommodates half a million more citizens than New Zealand, on a rock the size of our biggest lake.
Only Singapore’s ‘lake’ has no water.
Yet somehow its people earn more money than both New Zealanders and Australians.
Which goes to show that when it comes to generating wealth, size isn’t anything.
That convenient excuse also doesn’t explain how, for over a century, we used to be just as rich or richer than our sunburnt neighbours.
And it collapses completely when you realise that we’re no longer just Aussie’s poor cuzzie. We’re now poorer than every single Australian state.
Yes, even Tasmania.
So when John Key and Bill English consigned Don Brash’s 2025 Taskforce plan to the too-hard basket, they seemed to be doing their bit to ensure that New Zealand remains a basket case.
If Allan Bollard is right that we’re now only fit to catch the crumbs from Australia’s table, would it be too ambitious to hope that by 2025 we might have caught up with Tasmania?