cpaul on 20 Nov 2000 08:28:04 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] The flight of the Kiwis

Auckland's glitzy facade masks an economy crushed by New Zealand's
doctrinaire pursuit of a free-market miracle.
New Zealand's best and brightest have become refugees, writes Bernard Lagan,
fleeing a falling currency, a lack of well-paid jobs and a country bowed by
foreign debt.

The New Zealand of even 15 years ago is unrecognisable. It has been sold.
Globalised. Almost everything has gone to foreign owners - the banks, the
insurers, the brewers, the forest companies, the media.

Even those institutions regarded by many New Zealanders as public
infrastructure are no longer locally controlled. The railways and Telecom
were sold to big American companies a decade ago in an orgy of public asset
sales first ignited by David Lange's mid-'80s Labour Government and
continued by its conservative successor, the National Party. Lange has since
recanted, many times. His treasurer, Roger Douglas, never has.

If the economic wellbeing of the country is the measure of success, the
great free market experiment is now judged by many ordinary New Zealanders
to have faltered, if not failed.

The foreign owners of New Zealand who have watched the New Zealand dollar
collapse to US40 are sweating. Some want their money out, like the American
businessmen who bought the New Zealand railway system. They cut an
organisation that once employed 25,000 to 4,000, and now want to sell the
country's rail passenger services and cut their workforce to just 600.

The New Zealand economy has been slowing while Australia heads for a record
four years of strong growth. About 70,000 New Zealanders are leaving a year.
Half come to Australia, and are this country's largest source of migrants.
They are fleeing a falling currency, a lack of well-paid jobs and a country
that has pawned itself to foreigners and owes vast amounts in private
overseas borrowings.


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