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Key claims manufacturing 'is doing extremely well'

Published: 8:30AM Monday October 08, 2012 Source: ONE News

Prime Minister John Key today hit back at claims by unions and the opposition that New Zealand is facing a manufacturing crisis.

Despite an emergency summit being organised by the groups for Friday, Key said there is no crisis and no need for a meeting, calling it "pointless".

The call comes as hundreds of jobs in the export sector have been lost in recent weeks, with the blame being laid on the soaring Kiwi dollar.

Key today visited steel manufacturer, Real Steel, in the Hutt Valley, and told workers that "in spite of what you may hear" manufacturing is "doing extremely well".

Key said Green Party data was "wrong", and that they had "come up with a whole lot of data that we can't stack up".

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Figures from Statistics New Zealand, provided by the Greens, show around 40,000 jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector since 2008.

Unions believe something has to be done.

"We've had in our union more than 70 separate companies announce redundancies since February - that's two a week on average," said Bill Newsman, EPMU national secretary.

The unions have proposed a jobs summit similar to the one the Government held in 2009 when the global financial crisis was at its peak.

But this time the Prime Minister has not been invited, and he said it is unlikely he would go anyway.

"Is there a crisis in New Zealand? Well we could talk ourselves into a crisis, but I'm not convinced there is one," Key said this afternoon.

He had the support of Real Steel's managing director Luke Mathieson, who said: "Business is tough out there, but the good guys with good products are doing ok."

Print more money - Greens

The Green Party is calling for the Reserve Bank to print money to help bring the currency down.

However, the Prime Minister slammed the suggestion as "wacky" on TV ONE's Breakfast this morning.

Key disputes the Green's figures, and says printing money would only increase the rate of inflation leading to a rise in the price of goods.

"If printing money is the way to go, why don't we just print lots of money and we will have a great Christmas?" he said.

Labour have not gone as far as backing money printing, but said it does want to see changes to the way the Reserve Bank operates.

"It's out of date. We need to move forward, we need to protect those jobs in the manufacturing sector by encouraging them through a more competitive exchange rate," said Labour's David Parker.

While the Government doesn't feel the need for a jobs summit, many employers have already signed up to take part. Lobby group, Business New Zealand      has also confirmed it will be attending.

"At this stage we've had 30 confirmations of business leaders, senior employers," said Newsman.