Buy what’s best

Is a t-shirt made here from imported cotton and synthetic material better than one made somewhere else from our wool?

There’s no single right answer to that because it depends on what’s meant by better and there are so many variables including who and what it’s better for – the consumer, the producer, the tax payer, the environment, the economy?

That is one of the reasons that the buy New Zealand made camapign was ill conceived.

The first t-shirt would have been considered kiwi made the second wouldn’t, although the latter probably had a greater New Zealand input but the amount of local input doesn’t by itself make something better or worse anyway.

When my children were young, clothing was sized by age but the sizes and ages didn’t match because babies’ clothes didn’t attract tariffs and those for older children, I think it was from three, did. That meant clothes were labelled for under the tariff-attracting age for as long as possible because they were much cheaper. Once your children got too big for them you had to pay considerably more in the mistaken belief that protecting local producers was better.

The buy kiwi made campaign didn’t take us back to those bad old days but the thinking behind it was similarly misguided.

I buy what’s best for me which almost always means I buy on price and quality and if everything is equal I’ll choose a local product over one from somewhere else. Although that’s emotional rather than rational because as a country which depends on exports we would be disadvantaged if people in other countries bought local produce rather than ours.

But regardless of what I buy and why I buy it, I don’t need a multi-million dollar advertising campaign telling me -wrongly – that buying kiwi-made is better and I’m delighted the new government has scrapped it.

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