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Dr Muriel Newman

Improving Productivity and Wellbeing

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised to address New Zealand’s flagging productivity growth.

According to the Productivity Commission, the country is being held back by our persistently weak labour productivity growth, which was the fourth lowest of all OECD countries between 1995 and 2014.

Productivity, which grows when better use is made of a country’s resources, is the most important driver of income growth and people’s wellbeing. New Zealand’s poor long-run productivity performance is the key reason why our average incomes are still well below the OECD average.

To increase productivity, we essentially need to add value to everything we sell. Yet when it comes to exports, we are still largely reliant on commodities.

While this is changing, progress is painfully slow.

Fonterra, New Zealand’s biggest company, is the world’s largest processor of dairy products, with a total revenue of around $22 billion, 22,000 employees, and a sales network that reaches into more than 100 countries. While their main export remains milk powder, they are increasingly diversifying into added value consumer and food service products such as UHT milk, infant formula, butter, yoghurt, ice cream, and a wide variety of cheese – including their increasingly popular extra stretch mozzarella.

The company’s focus is not only on increasing the efficiency of their operations, but on developing new revenue streams, through higher value specialised products. These now make up almost 20 percent of the company’s sales volumes.

A new development in the timber industry is providing exciting opportunities to add value.

Over the years, the 150 year-old Victoria University Law School in Wellington has attracted attention – not only for being the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere, but because it has come through earthquakes unscathed, while near-new concrete and steel structures have broken under their own weight. 

This has led Sir Bob Jones to commission the world’s largest wooden commercial building – a 12-storey 52 metres high office block in central Wellington, made from laminated timber columns and beams.

Some fifteen hundred New Zealand pine trees will be used in the building, which is expected to perform better in an earthquake than steel or reinforced concrete.

The technology, which is now being used around the world, including in Canada, the UK, Norway, Austria and Australia, was used in the extension to Wellington Airport’s domestic terminal.

In Melbourne, a 10-level 42 metre building using the same cross laminated timber went up 40 per cent faster than a concrete building, with fewer workers, a quieter and safer building site, and 90 per cent fewer truck movements. The main reason for the faster construction was the prefabrication of the floors, walls and other components.

New Zealand played a leading role in that construction. The Nelson-based company Xlam was the only precision manufacturing plant in the southern hemisphere that could supply the laminated timber panels. The company is now setting up its second factory in Australia.

Although progress is clearly being made, the scope of our productivity problem is significant.

The Productivity Commission says that New Zealand’s leading firms are around a third less productive than leading international firms in the same industry. And when it comes to other domestically focussed firms, they can be up to 90 percent less productive than the best firms in the field, but still survive in the New Zealand marketplace.

In comparison, in Denmark, firms that can’t achieve at least a quarter of the productivity of the best firms in the same industry get killed off by the forces of competition. It’s therefore no surprise that Denmark’s productivity is 61 percent higher than ours, and although the Danish work 19 percent fewer hours per person than New Zealanders, their per-capita GDP is 31 percent higher than ours.

Transitioning from a development model based on working more hours per capita to one based on generating more value from time spent at work is a key challenge.

While there’s no simple formula to lift productivity, there are some universal principles. One is to create a climate in which entrepreneurialism will flourish. That means ensuring open and competitive markets, a tax regime that rewards enterprise, and a regulatory framework that encourages innovation.

A country’s culture is also crucial. One that embraces free market wealth creation will obviously be more prosperous than one that considers successful business people to be ‘rich pricks’ – to quote Labour’s former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen.

The sad reality in New Zealand today is that over the last few decades left wing politicians and socialist activists have successfully manipulated public opinion into thinking that anyone who has managed to do well for themselves financially has only done so at the expense of the poor and the needy.

If Jacinda Ardern really wants New Zealanders to improve their wellbeing she should focus on encouraging business success. That would lift employment and economic growth, and in doing so she would be helping to raise living standards for all citizens. 

So what is the new Government going to do about productivity? In the Speech from the Throne, marking the State Opening of Parliament, Jacinda Ardern made a commitment to address the problem:

“A shift is required to create a more productive economy. This does not mean increasing productivity through more people working more hours to increase outputs, while eroding our natural and social assets.

“This means working smarter, with new technologies, reducing the export of raw commodities and adding more value in New Zealand… High quality trade agreements that benefit our exporters, at the same time as protecting New Zealand’s sovereignty, will be supported. This includes seeking to renegotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to exclude investor state dispute mechanisms and avoid their inclusion in all future agreements.”

In the lead up to the election, Labour, the Greens, and New Zealand First all identified Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses as a major barrier to trade deals, especially the TPP. These clauses allow foreign investors to sue governments – either through domestic courts or international tribunals – if they introduce new laws and regulations that breach their rights under the Agreement and undermine the value of their investments.

The TPP – which was instigated by Helen Clark’s Government and negotiated by National – has been a major focus for the new Government over recent weeks. During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam, when the 21 APEC leaders met to promote free trade throughout the region, New Zealand was able to get together with the remaining ten TPP countries (Japan, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) to try to finalise the deal, following the withdrawal of the United States.

According to official reports, the 11 countries agreed to push ahead with the deal, which will give New Zealand preferential access to some of the world’s biggest markets: “The ministers agreed not to make amendments to the original text but freeze the implementation of some clauses to ensure balance and the quality of the document in the new context.”

In other words, the only change agreed to – apart from a name change to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – was to suspend the clauses that had originally been introduced at the behest of the USA, with the intention of bringing them back into the deal if the US chooses to re-join at a later date.

The problem is that the Prime Minister and Trade Minister, David Parker, claimed they had negotiated major concessions – including over those ISDS clauses.

This created controversy as Auckland University’s Professor Jane Kelsey, a leading free trade critic, described their assertions as “spin”, saying that she’d gone through the new text and found little had changed: “There is virtually nothing that I can find that is a significant concession.”

She was concerned that the TPP had gone from being an agreement that Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First had said they couldn’t support, to now being “the best thing since sliced bread”. She believes Labour is failing to keep its promises on trade deals: “The spin that we’ve heard from David Parker and from the Prime Minister don’t match up to what’s still in the text. Basically it’s the same deal.”

While the CPTPP hasn’t yet been signed, there are high hopes that it will be in the near future.

Progress has also been made on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership – a proposed free trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, along with the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and the Associate Trade Minister Damien O’Connor represented New Zealand at the negotiations, which, if successful would cover seven out of our top 10 export markets.

Free trade deals are extremely important to New Zealand, since every extra $1 billion in exports, creates around 8,500 new jobs. Yet, in spite of that, New Zealand only has eight trade agreements with 16 countries – far fewer than most comparable nations. That’s in spite of the fact that our isolation makes it extremely difficult for Kiwi exporters to compete in markets where there are no trade agreements.

Free trade agreements help to improve national productivity by enabling firms to become more efficient as they seek to succeed in the face of stiff global competition. In addition, the importation of goods from overseas helps to improve the productivity of domestic firms, as the internal competition forces them to improve their performance.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Michael Reddell, a former Reserve Bank economist, has been looking into New Zealand’s productivity problem and believes that improvements are possible with policy changes:

“There are plenty of things that could be done to lift the competitiveness of the New Zealand economy. For example, we now have a company tax rate that is above that of the median OECD country.   Lower taxes on the returns to business investment are one of best ways of getting more such investment. We also already have one of the highest minimum wages rate, relative to median incomes, of any OECD countries. 

“Reforming our land use and planning laws could markedly lower the cost of housing, and help ensure that people and businesses can locate in the best locations.

“But the most important single change we need to make is to end our very unusual immigration policy.”

Some of the drivers of productivity growth are straight forward, such as improving infrastructure. With traffic congestion in Auckland estimated to cost the economy $2 billion a year in lost productivity, improving the country’s roading network is crucial.

Reducing company tax was an election promise made by New Zealand First. With New Zealand now having one of the highest rates in the OECD, pushing for a reduction in company tax to prevent Kiwi businesses becoming increasingly uncompetitive, should remain a priority.

Excessive regulation also erodes competitiveness and productivity. By increasing the cost of fuel and power, New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme has forced up the price of all goods and services across the economy. The new health and safety requirements have significantly increased costs for some businesses, and the new food bill is forcing many fledgling enterprises to close.

Labour costs will undoubtedly rise as a result of the increased influence of the unions. Further, according to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, increasing the minimum wage to $20 an hour, could destroy over 60,000 jobs and increase the economy-wide cost of wages by over $2 billion – pushing up the cost of goods and services even more.  

When the cost of transportation to overseas markets is factored in, it is little wonder that many potential exporters are unable to make the grade.

The reality is that good intentions are not enough. If Jacinda Ardern is serious about lifting the country’s productivity growth, then she needs a policy re-think.

Improving national productivity is a huge challenge, but the country’s future prosperity depends on it.


Do you think that productivity will improve under the new Labour-led Government?


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


With increased union influence – not a chance! David
NZ is too used to being where they are. Increasing the minimum wage will increase productivity? Yeah right. This Labour led loser government is going to put us right back where that other woman put us just before the Nats started putting things right. Except for the treaty fiasco, that is. Neil
There is no chance of improving NZ’s productivity by free trade agreements with low paid 3rd world countries. This nonsense has already shut down most of our factories and will do more as the 3rd world increases its potential. Raising wages is a no-brainer, this only leads to higher prices as the two are related. Higher prices means more will buy 3rd world goods to save money and this means jobs will be lost. George
The current government’s policies, so far as we know them, are tending to be pro-union, such as increasing the minimum wage rate and wages for workers, both of which will cause increased costs for businesses – hardly an atmosphere for business to thrive and expand. After all, it’s businesses that provide the jobs. We also need to lower company taxes. These, along with trade agreements, may give us a more competitive edge in overseas markets. It will be interesting to see what the taxation committee (what will be the cost of this?) comes up with. There needs to be a more level playing field for tax, with everyone paying their fair share – which includes removing the charitable status of tribal corporations, which pay very little tax and therefore have an unfair commercial advantage over other businesses. Laurence
Duh! No of course productivity won’t improve under Labour, quite the contrary, mainly because more money will be channelled to non-productive people, such as beneficiaries and others – mainly maori/polys – who play the system, eg have another child every five years so that they can stay on the DPB. The New Zealand beneficiary culture is set to thrive under Labour. But even that isn%u2019t the main reason why New Zealand productivity is so low %u2013 the real reason is obvious: too many people take their holidays in January, with the result that everything slows down, as so many of the people required to make progress are simply not at work, and all these absences compound into a massive slowdown of productivity, that extends beyond January into the following months. The brutal truth is that kiwis are lazy. Management needs to put much more effort into planning to cover absences during the holiday months of January and February and needs to say no to some people in some years. Life is hard folks and it is about time we stopped turning our backs on inconvenient truths, to borrow a phrase. WUNZ! K
Not a show!!  Don
No, too many dole bludgers who dont want to work, labour govts pander to these types who seem to get what they want without working, hence no increase in production. James
Productivity will not improve under the present administration if it enacts its socialist agenda; productivity is more likely to decrease. Furthermore, if the present administration made no changes at all, productivity would not change. Any increase in productivity will require change s that benefit the economy as a whole, for example, consider abolishing company tax. That would be a very significant driver of employment and investment in new technology, though it might by inflationary. As to Professor Kelsey, I ask this question: how can a rabid anti free trader teach marketing? Surely that is a conflict of ideals!  Peter
She is as useless as an ashtray on a motor bike. Simon
I do not believe that under this Govt . NZ productivity will increase. Socialist mindset does neither consist of nor allow analytic and farsighted lines of thought on how money has to be generated first in order to be able to re distribute funds where these monies will truly benefit society on a whole .Or– in short– you cannot spent the dollar you don’t have in your pocket. JA ‘s remarks and actions so far indicate that she needs to do a lot of growing up. She acts like a political juvenile . Michael
It will never increase under a Labour government as the unions have too much influence. Also Labour concentrates to much on hand outs. I note that they arer already talking of cutting back on roading infrastructure which has been neglected for far to long with the last National government the only government for a long time with enough balls to get stuck into it.  John
Sadly NO!Too little experience and correct policy Steve
No way. Clark
Sorry but the new Labour-led Government has one one main goal – to spend the tax payers money on those not contributing to the economy. I do not think they have any knowledge vision on the importance of the productivity of the country and how to increase that! Anna
We need to get people working. But there is little incentive to do so, if you can sit on your bottom and get paid for doing nothing. Ross
I have answered yes to the question this week because I hope that the Labour led government, with their plans to build large quantities of houses, will improve productivity substantially in the building industry. I understand that we now have some factories in New Zealand who have imported German computer operated equipment that will manufacture timber housing units in a completed form. These units can then be taken on site to build a complete house in kit set form. I have had a lot of experience in the electrical appliance industry with productivity. Designing appliances and setting up manufacturing processes that build appliances in the shortest possible time. The whole emphasis for productivity is that a task is completed in the shortest possible time. Thus making best use of labour and saving money. These basics can apply to a wide range of industries and businesses. More people in small/medium business should spend time learning about business management and business accounting. Both subjects are very important to productivity. I spent the latter part of my working life as a business adviser/ business educator and I was horrified by the number of business people I met with education problems. Ernest
Labours hot air is only good enough to blow up ballons but not to increase productivity. There will be strikes and like disruptions. The blame is winston’s by going with labour.  Johan
I do expect to see statistics (lies) come from Labour that will say productivity has increased. But the wench does not seem like a latter day roger Douglas at all. Raiford
The only thing that will be produced will be much hot air full of Green garbage, Maori mumbo-jumbo and socialist claptrap from the Tooth Fairy & co. Monica
While Labour have a strong focus on taxation, wealth redistribution and unearned entitlement, incomes and productivity are likely to decline further.  Frank
My next business investment will be offshore as National wasn’t much help either Wayne
HOW ???? They just don’t know about things like that. Do They? Mabel
Labour does not understand business, only how to increase benefit payments Alan
Very little unless labour strikes it lucky like the last time in govt Barry
No Labour governments in the UK, Australia or NZ have ever improved productivity or lowered taxes. My Father always told me, as a young lad, never vote for socialists they will always empty your wallet!! Rick
You are joking even suggesting that it might, aren’t you! Lee
A hard answer at this stage — I would have preferred to answer “possibly!” Alan
Spend, spend, spend. Where do these socialists think the $$$ are coming from to pay people to have babies, free Uni in first year and growing, high minimum wages not comparable to productivity, with consequential job losses, particularly in small businesses, and a lousy work ethic among a lot of young people – hardly bodes well for NZs future. We need strong, firm leadership, which will not happen while we have Jacindamania and dishonest 2nd in charge. We need Trump! Or Lee Kwan Yoo! Carolyn
It will only improve if they carry out the policys that you have suggested in this weekly letter, which are excellent common sense However I am not holding my breath.  John
How’s it going to increase with the unions starting to flex their muscles again, back to the 70’s and 80’s? We’ve already seen a rail strike in Wellington, this’ll only be the beginning.  Brent
Union leaders are negative forces in the labor market – something only they can change – Look at the Wellington Rail debate on TV. 3 Maurie
Pruductivity will only improve if wages are tied to work output. That as far as the labour market side of things is the key. Incentive payments can help in this area. Ted
Without a massive increase in productivity, I’m not talking about shuffling paper from one pile to another, [bureaucrat style], but producing more good and services we can sell off-shore and generating real wealth, then all the wage increases demanded by everyone that wants more for less then the economy will be crippled. Ced
Productivity cannot increase in Auckland, the biggest driver of productivity in the Country, until roading is sorted out. Playing about with public transport only delays productivity. Minimum wages rate rises without any ability to increase productivity only exacerbates the problem, lessens profitably and weakens the job creators. We will soon be the least productive country in the OECD  Harry
Busy body interference in every aspect of our lives makes us uncompetitive with overseas trading partners. One only has to look at the issues that foolish Health and Safety rules and regulations impose on everyone. Of particular note are Council Bylaws that cost a great deal of time and money without adding any value .. pure foolish nonsense. Other matters such as imposing heavy handed regulation that pushes our best and most experience tradespeople out of the building industry because they simply refuse to sign up to new impositions that are in some cases contrary to time honoured best practice. Making a tradesman follow methods that are plainly technically wrong and unworkable push highly experienced people out of industries creating shortages. The qualified people are there, but they are not going to be bullied into doing things incorrectly to satisfy some upstart nincompoop in some faceless government administration. There are many examples in the building and related trades. Councils, Environment organisations, the RMA, employment regulations are major contributing factors to our productivity woes. Apart from that, their are literally tens of thousands of employees, particularly in Government organisations who produce nothing of value, whilst drawing ridiculously high salaries. These positions are a massive drain on our productivity as are all welfare recipients, not including superannuitants, who have already paid their own way over 40 to 50 years in the workforce. There is so much more …. Dianna
A bunch of dreamers trying to run a country, unfortunately. Mitch
Not at all Expenditure will be the only thing that increases Craig
Quite the reverse in fact. I predict that the arse will drop out of the New Zealand economy if these fools persist with their fairy crap ideas. Kerry
Productivity may hold its own with non union sites but we are already seeing the way it will go on unionised sites, P.S. re timber frame, properly designed, steel will out perform timber, ref, the height limit for timber frame for starters. John
Productivity will decline, as the labour governments have proven to have no idea about business. Roy
Unfortunately Geoffrey
The mental attitude to a decent days work went out the window years ago not a lot take pride in there work any more SAD Russell
Optimistic Edward
Not a dogs show! Wally
Our very low productivity growth has remained a problem for decades going back to the Muldoon era. It would be unrealistic to expect the new Government to make any impact on the issue in it’s first term at least. Graham
Increased productivity requires investment in better designs, better processes, automation, labour capability and flexibility. None of these are more likely under a Labour led Government.  Frank
Due to innovative thinking Gerard
Will start stay the same or reduse Carl
Unions! Lying polititions do not prosper. John
I voted “No” because I feel that Labour and the Greens are too ideologically driven to make the necessary adjustments to their long held Socialist policies. I do not say that this is impossible – just highly unlikely, given that Socialism tends towards spending existing wealth rather than devising ways of increasing it. To me, this whole misbegotten triumvirate we are now burdened with, was an accident that found somewhere to happen. I guess we will just have to wait and see! Scott 
Unfortunately no, but – is it any surprise? Sarah
It never has Richard
The unions will stop that happening one way or another. Mark
Unions pressure & giving way to it will erode business confidence & profitability if it is not countered by a lowering of business taxation. Donald
Maybe David
They are too socialist and for the trade unions who will bankrupt the country. Christine
Wage demands will increase which will make NZ even less able to compete with other countries. Unions will drive down productivity. Geoff
Despite all the high-flown rhetoric from the Prime minister, we can be certain that Labour will return to its roots of “tax and spend”, thus creating a disincentive to hard work, company profit, and hence, productivity. We can also expect a return of the unions’ bullypboy tactics, which will further hold back growth, through excessive wage claims and a drive for a shorter working week.  Graham
Fat chance Ray
How could it labour can’t even spell productivity Alan
The only thing that will improve under Labour will be more handouts to no hopers Mike
Not a chance. May well go backwards. Addressing the tax rate won’t change much as Kiwi’s are not driven by higher earnings when the beach beckons. To produce more with less labour we have to use technology and better operating plant. Trucks are a good illustration. Bigger faster, cheaper to run with bigger payloads but still the same man at the wheel. IMHO we should up the depreciation rate on new fixed plant. Be able to write 50% off the year of purchase. Leaves cash in the business to further invest. Interestingly enough much new plant is cheaper than it was 10 years ago. Create some incentive for exporting so companies will take the risk. Remove disincentives like red tape and the constant harassment of business by outfits like local bodies and Mobie. Bring back training programs like Training within Industry. After 40 years still use these methods and wish I could have access to this fro my staff. (Here is an opportunity for an independent provider Google TWI.) Last but not least stop using GDP as a measure of anything relating to productivity for it is not. Its a measure of community activity in total. So the more people we have that add no value to our community but add turnover to the GDP figure the worse it will get. Same in most countries which explains why productivity is stagnant world wide. e.g. OAP and Beneficiaries add nothing to the productivity of a country. We have an increasing number of both. Robert
The promises already made prior to the election are for the followers, not the leaders in industry, agriculture etc. productivity will not go up by raising the minimum wage. Owen
It will only improve if Labour has a serious rethink on what it actually takes to increase productivity and revise its thinking accordingly. Ian
Pushing up the minimum wage to $20 is an indication of the Labour Government false thinking  Jim
Don’t make me laugh. This bunch of water melons has no clue on how to run anything except the dole queues. We have got to get binding referendum as the law of the country. Otherwise we will continue to slide down the slope to National poverty. Politicians prove time after time that they do not have the inteeligence nor the guts to make the decisions that need to be made. Ronmac
With this communist-inspired new “leader” we will have a re-surgence of unions flexing their muscles to gain across-the-board, undeserved wage increases Aunty Podes
Absolutely not. They are increasing the minimum wage to over $20 per hour in the next 3 years They are increasing paid parental leave to 26 weeks with the cooperation of National and no doubt there will a lot more help to the people that can scream the most. We have had our first major strike in 2 decades with the Wellington rail network workers going on strike and they are getting rid of 3 strikes legislation that is a great deterrent to Criminals Worst of all the will be stopping the National party’s tax cuts as people spend their own money better than any Government can. Every taxpayer could have had another $1000 per year to do what they wanted to do with instead of watching them spend a lot of it on wasteful projects that achieve nothing in the long run Colin
Ther is no chance that there will be any improvement of productivity in New Zealand under a labour government hell bent on penalising business through tax increases and further restrictive regulation. Victor
I am a National supporter and have no confidence in this Government, they lack experience and some Ministers showing that they are out of their depth eg Kelvin Davis and Phil Twyford  Ross
Certainly not. With the combination of Jacinta and her merry followers plus the rise again of the Unions I dread to think what the future will hold for all of us. Erin
If the past and their recent pledges are anything to go by, productivity will reduce and costs and red tape will increase. It will be disastrous and given Winston’s deceit before the election, he wont be much help either. I now don’t trust him to do what’s right for the country. Helen
She thinks as a socialist which erodes her good intentions  Nick
With even more stumbling blocks & hurdles to jump, like James Shaws brainless promise to lead the world & make NZ carbon neutral ,which of course will make NZ even less cost efficient & will have zero effect on the climate. While Jacinda promises a minimum wage pay-rise unrelated to productivity. There will be no improvement in productivity as long as political interference in our lives remain..  A.G.R.
Empowering the Regions, reducing business tax, training for young people, shifting businesses out of the main cities, hopefully closing the “big boys” network which has choked out competition or closed down NZ firms. Look at who owns the Companies building our roads and infrastructure. It has to change and yes it will increase productivity throughout New Zealand.  Di
Under a Labour Government? Never Ortwin
Labour costs will undoubtedly rise as a result of the increased influence of the unions. Further, according to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, increasing the minimum wage to $20 an hour, could destroy over 60,000 jobs and increase the economy-wide cost of wages by over $2 billion – pushing up the cost of goods and services even more.  Derrick
Productivity WILL decline under the new Labour-led government. The socialism of, “you work while I eat” is slavery simply put, only it will be much worse than the previous lot. Free market capitalism must be talked about now. It will not become a working reality from a default of socialism. A default will only deliver another variant of socialism.  Don
How can productivity improve when all this Labour led Government wants to do is Spend Spend Spend. Also they have started to pledge money for this stupid Island refugee thing when we have nothing to do with it. It is Australias problem, not ours. Wankers. Graham
Not if there’s more taxes.  Simon
If anything productivity will decrease and labour costs will increase because this coilition of rednecks will want to compensate the poor at the expense of the so called rich which a large chunk of them are rich on paper due to house values. Lets see how long this government lasts as they are a defult government. So watch this space. Ken
They wont be smart enough to reduce company taxes to 20% or less Ken
I only wish it would improve under a new Gov. Nurturing union power will be counterproductive . Anthony 
Labours benefit rises will make unemployment okay & the tax rate is STUPID she NEEDS to look at overseas rates & Winston NEEDS to keep his promise to reduce companies tax. Cindy
It is unfortunate but I can’t see this left leaning Government being able to be keep their socialist ideological impulses from holding the country back  Bryan
Labour and Nationals socialist policies have got our economy to where it is now, still no better and in continual decline since 1974. We should be very suspicious of any undisclosed details of multilateral trade trade deals especially when we have an immature Marxist PM overseeing the outcome. As most of your readers believe, our situation has and will continue to be effected by naive political policy decisions. Rex
The Unions along with the Greens will no doubt kill the economy. A CGT will also cause havoc for the wrong people. David
No it won’t. Ardern and co haven’t got a clue how to run this country, socially or financially. Plus on top of this she intends to give Maori more say and more assets which will create a bigger separatist division Mike 
Nothing will improve with those Commie’s in Power Ian
Jacinda may have the presentation skills and the easy flowing words BUT she needs a much more pragmatic brain to think in realities. Consider her stance on Manus Island so called refugees. Frank
Labour do not seem to understand how business works, introducing unions and taking away the 90 days trial period will not help. Lynn
Under Labour, NZ 1st and the Greens we will be so far in the poo that hardly anything will work. God help us please. Bruce
Unlikely Anthony
Socialism never led to improved productivity, quite the reverse. John
Not under the present format. John
Labour lacks intelligent consideration. There is a thing called reality. David
The Concern over Trade Unions’ wishes will limit general productivity Bryan
Just another neo liberal government. more inequality. No structural change that is required stj
A Labour govt can only increase the burdens the state imposes on the whole economy. Bernard
Productivity has always diminished in an environs of high Govt regulation and intervention – the very attributes of a socialist state.  Michael
They are disorientated,not their bag. Ian
A lot of people here in New Zealand are lazy and the Government will bend to look after those who don’t try or don’t want to work. We have to get rid of that mine set and then things will get better. Dont put to much in to those who don’t want to work. People have to learn that working makes the country health , plus them. Robert
They think work is for sissies Bruce
Not unless she stops bureaucrats and tribal leaders from form-filling and clipping the ticket. As if that is going to happen under this coalition! Fiona
No, because they want to control us – control the social, the physical, the emotional and the educational aspects of our lives directing us down ‘their’ WE WILL CONTROL YOU socialist path – and history clearly shows under such schemes productivity levels fall.  Stuart
No productivity is a dirty word for the “Coalition of Fear”. They are more interested in picking up where the Clark Government left off.It is all about social engineering .Its about them first, and NZ a distant last. Tony
The move to Direct Democracy, like the Swiss have, is the Most Important single change required in NZ. Ken
some key words this week include; “and a regulatory framework that encourages innovation.” “reform our land use and planning laws …..” “excessive regulation also erodes competitiveness”. RICHard
No way, the coalition can’t even count, they know not what they are doing, breaking pre election promises and do not have the people’s confidence. A communist mentality state run ideology and a leader who thinks she is a government of one, virtue signaling to other countries to distract labour supporters about signing theTPP and so on and so on. Business growth under labour select, not likely. Max
A real impediment to production is the quality of workers. A significant proportion of applicants for jobs in Mid-Canterbury are rejected due to positive drug tests. Anon 
This is a government of losers not winners which will empty the piggy bank giving all to the losers in this Country.A government already resembling a shambles of politicians who would not get a job in the real world so expecting increased productivity is just moon thinking  Don
With the exception of a few companies most other companies are poorly managed, overstaffed and inefficient. Ardern will not change that. Tom
You are joking, aren’t you ??  Pierre
Many well managed businesses will continue improving but umionism will increase with no need to work for pay. John
Fat chance  Pete
How can our productivity improve with the dreadful general attitude of the labour Greens government. None of them know how to make a dolaar, their academic backgrounds have only shown them how to spend public money while they continue to feed at the public trough.  Lloyd
Small to medium business is absolutely gutted by regulations hard taxes,no incentive to produce more with the Boss’ often working for nothing while the employees just cream it….Labour does not have a clue about the real cutting edge of a business in NZ….!!!! ChrisH
With a Labour led government, we will see a growing amount of industrial unrest setup by the unions wanting to flex their muscle. Darryl
Unless they raise wages, cut ceo’s pay and get worksafe to operate under common sense. Chris
Regarding timber being used in construction instead of concrete, it is a no brainer and common knowledge now that timber piled and clad houses perform better in an earthquake than anything built using concrete.  Toni
Labour have lots of “of taking care of the world ideas” by costing New Zealanders loads more tax, which figures are slow to appear from parliament, and many more ideas which will place many producers income in jeopardy. Ideology and practically are two very different commodities. Elizabeth
What a bunch of clowns at the circus Quentin
How can it ? David
They are ideologically determined to destroy Capitalism Bob
Likely. Jacinda appears unaware of cause and effect, and her years of socialist indoctrination will see those with wealth, or with wealth creation aspirations over taxed to support her profligate spending Andrew
Pragmatism always succeeds over idealism. Labour is always unfailingly filled with the latter at the expense of the former. We will continue to borrow our way into the future until there is little hope of extricating ourselves from a mountain of debt. Politicians are parasites, just review Peter’s antics from a career in this self-serving industry. Charles
We certainly need to urgently. Timber is a ‘must do’ we have the technology and expertise to greatly improve the value of our natural, and renewable resources Laminated structural products, and machined products must have huge potential. Bryan
Labour, by definition, do not have a history of innovation which is a prerequisite for improving productivity. Peter
Quite the opposite will occur John
We can already see that the thrust to change things has so far not included any of the important productivity aspect – all wooly stuff- c’mon Winston start stirring the pot! Rob
No direction with policied Gillian
If unions have anything to do with regulations New Zealand will not go ahead. Dennis
Major problem in the country is work “ethic ” by many employees A desire for hours payed with as little effort as possible. Even seen this attitude with small business owners.. Iain
Labour’s ideology is to try and control the business market and the unions will interfere as well Bryan
It will go backwards because they are anti business. More left wing than National but they were a socialist government who had lost their core values by introducing Socialist policies. Eg : RMA,Worksafe ,higher indirect taxes. Shonkey was very aply named. Not sure if we can ever come back from this because fake news has ensured the ‘tall poppy syndrome stuffs most innovation in NZ’ Greg
As a “nanny state” I don’t think so, after all giving ever increasing extra weeks off for for maternity leave is hardly an incentive to produce more…except babies! The culture in this country is not what can I do for my country but what is demanded is what can I get out of my country, what’s in it for me…I want more but giving loess and less in return, the work ethic is just not there anymore. Audrey
Never had happened before under Labour so why this time? Mike
Not a chance. Pdm
I understand that every labour government in the past has ended in a recession, why will this clusterfuck be any different? Incompetents to a member, every one of them. Paul 
Seriously lacking in professionalism Graeme
With the serious shift to the left welfare will cost more, minimum wage increase will cost jobs, growth in government will cost more and where is the government income coming from? Greens and Winstone will bring an early election and labour will be gone. I see if the government cannot organise themselves in the house, how can they run a successful economy. We need a strong economy to be able to look after the environment. Crazy situation, albeit short term. Peter
Hot air is cheap. Many of the practical actions required will never take place as they do not generate votes at an election. Tony
They have increased costs of everything when reducing the tax would have fixed it. good by NZ jobs Michael
Very simple – GDP per Capita will increase under Labour due to a lower exchange rate. Exports add to GDP – Imports subtract. A large factor in our poor productivity statistics is simply the result of on overvalued exchange rate. John
Of course not. You don’t get productivity gains by socialist policies and that is where Jacindas heart lies. Bringing in 150 criminals from Mannad Island for example, then their various family members who automatically will be allowed in, simply adds another drain on our economy!  Hugh
We used to have the second highest GDP per capita in the world.We are now in less number 28th or somewhere near that NZCPS has outlined what needs tobe done. National could have done it but did not.Trump is doing it Michael
Higher wages and unemployment will negate Geer
Compliance costs for many SMEs in NZ is a major concern if one looks at the incremental growth of this agenda. What is the agenda? It is the leaking of value off the bottom lines of our balance sheets. Ross
Sadly it will regress .. slowly at first but at a growing rate as Labour’s redistributive and centralized bargaining take hold .. We are also likely to see interest rates rise as Labour’s appetite for poor quality spending mounts  Matthew 
The policies Labour and the Greens intend to introduce will add huge costs onto business, so no, things will get worse, not better.  Keith
If NZ First stands up for business things could improve, but there’s not much chance of that. Dennis
Business people will be pilloried by this government, so most will not want to stick their necks out. The problems are destined to get worse. Dianna
Labour and NZ First may try subsidies, which may boost some industries, but overall, the union influence and Green influence will drag things down. Paul
No, not a hope in hell with the union controlled Labour Party in bed with the communist Greens, and Winston Peters out to lunch. Brian