Coming Out Of The Crisis
We need to consider some big ideas if we are to recover our country after Covid-19
Only a few months ago I penned a column where I noted the challenging conversations farmers were having across dinner tables up and down the country because of the Government's proposed freshwater reforms.
I raised it to paint a picture of a sector feeling under siege, struggling to see how they could navigate an increasingly fraught regulatory environment. I raised it so that our urban friends could get a glimpse into a world that many were not aware of.
Now, barely six months later, so much of New Zealand is closed with the exception of our farms and hospitals. The tough, painful and fearful kitchen table conversations are occurring in many houses across the country.
The "stay home, save lives" strategy will slowly morph into the "safety first but slowly restart" phase. The judgements around timing and sequence of whom and when, will be fraught; but transparent, timely data and an honest assessment of the risks we are prepared to endure will be critical. A tougher period lies in the months ahead.
By September we may be tens of billions more in debt, and we may have a Government that is having to spend more in order to rightly support those who have been impacted by the coming recession. We may have an economy with the tap turned squarely off on two of its biggest foreign earners - international tourism and international students. Together these two sectors earn about $23 billion per year, only slightly less than all meat and dairy exports. More debt, more spending, and less income.
Whatever our national strategy was just a few months ago is now wholly inadequate. What is the new plan for our country? How do we rebuild after this crisis?
I start by asking the simple question; what do we do best in the world, and can we still be the best when the global lights come on?
Our capacity to produce diverse food products be it dairy, meat, kiwifruit, wine at scale, with sublime quality assurance gives us a strong platform to build from. So how can we amplify and leverage that advantage for us all?