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Ladder award: Chris Laidlaw and his Radio NZ panel discussion on the economy

This week’s ladder award goes to Chris Laidlaw and panelists for their insightful Radio New Zealand discussion on a vision for New Zealand’s economic future. Although the discussion related to the New Zealand economy, some of the issues raised have wider applications.

Panelists included: Peter Conway, Council of Trade Unions economist, David Skilling, the Chief Executive of the privately-funded think-tank the New Zealand Institute, and Paul Newfield, an executive from Morrison and Co, which manages Infratil Limited, a publicly-listed investor in infrastructure assets.

Panelists laid a useful foundation and seemed to agree about the past, present and future conditions. In summary:

1. It is not possible to simply return to the past. In the 1960s and 70s New Zealand had one of the highest living standards in the world, producing food for the British market. Since then the country has depended on borrowing to cover economic short-falls and maintain its standard of living.

2. There has been much inaction over the decades since, with oscillations between complacency (there’s no need to do anything) and fatalism (we can’t do anything about the debt, we can’t compete; there’s no point, its hopeless). Doing nothing is no longer an option.

3. There is a need for a national vision of the economy around sustainability (economic, socio-cultural and ecological), steps to get there (in New Zealand one suggestion was increasing broadband) and to have nation-wide, open, inclusive, constructive, forward-looking conversations.

Panelists stressed the need to have these conversations over the next 3-4 months.

A Ladder has been awarded to Laidlaw and his panelists for their willingness to engage in a meaningful forward-looking conversation designed to help get us out of a hole.

What do you think? Do you think there is a need is for such conversations? If so, how can these be held, especially in ways that involve people at all levels?

There was an attempt to have national conversations with the Knowledge Wave about a decade ago. However, much knowledge – including local village knowledge – was not much sought after. That need not remain the case – there could be more possibilities for inclusion of many forms of knowledge around sustainability. Make a comment, or nominate your own Award.

More: Hazel Ashton’s concludion-of-doctoral-thesis John Gallagher’s blogs: NZ’s international relationships – getting to the best options & Towards smart local living in a successful economy

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