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In an extraordinary statement yesterday, Prime Minister John Key, who is also Minister for Tourism, compared our 100% Pure brand reputation to the McDonalds 'I'm Lovin It!' marketing campaign. You know, those adverts that sell you cheap fast food and high blood pressure. He glibly stated that our reputation was simply a marketing campaign and “it's got to be taken with a pinch of salt."
He was of course talking about the brand upon which our exporters rely on as a vehicle to overseas markets, a brand that was considered amongst the most powerful on the planet and worth US$13.6 Billion to the New Zealand economy (1). All of that demolished with one smug, off-the-cuff comment to an astonished press gallery.
With this statement, it seems John Key is deliberately lowering expectations to justify his own failed and damaging policies. If we’re happy to settle for something much less than the best we can be, if we can settle for more unemployment, less manufacturing and more pollution - then that suits him very well.
This from our Prime Minister, the one person above all who should be leading by example and articulating a vision of prosperity for New Zealand. Yet, in the same breath he casually wrote off the value of our hard won reputation, he himself cautioned that we “had to be careful not to run the country down”. I simply don’t know of any other head of state who would make such a derisory and damning statement about the aspirations of their own country.
Indeed, it seems that on recent form he is fast becoming a clown prince rather than international statesman.
But this is a serious point. The world is waking to the damage that’s being done by this Government. Under John Key’s tenure we’ve seen the economy stagnate, record numbers of people losing their jobs and some of our streams and rivers have become no-go zones for swimming. We are receiving international condemnation for abandoning our commitments to tackle climate change and for ignoring the plight of the the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin.
The ‘growth at any cost’ policy of the Government’s plan is eating the heart out of our values and once proud reputation. It is plan that is set up to fail.
When the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup, John Key stated that: “It is an achievement built on courage, determination, grit and great teamwork....These are all values that New Zealanders hold highly”. And he’s right. They are the values that Kiwi’s hold dear, they inspire us to stand out in the world and are the fabric of our success.
They are the very values which could help us build a cleaner, smarter way of doing business in New Zealand; create many thousands of jobs and grow a healthier economy. All by protecting our environment and restoring integrity to our global reputation.
Prosperity does not have to come at a cost, it can be delivered by building on the very assets and values that we already have. We can safeguard our environment and become wealthy by learning to do so.
Key’s statement is simply an admission that his Government is on the wrong track.
(1) A report by InterBrand in 2005 analysed the 100% Pure New Zealand brand in comparison to other global corporate and consumer brands. It calculated the 100% Pure New Zealand brand as being worth around US$13.6 billion. This ranks it 21st in the world (Interbrand/Business Week 2005 Best Global Brands survey) just behind Samsung and ahead of Dell.