Jobs go, jobs come


Dunedin had some good news yesterday:

Dunedin’s Wall Street mall is to be redeveloped to cater for an expansion of Fisher & Paykel’s operation in the city, which is expected to provide about 70 jobs.

The whiteware company wants to extend its existing lease of office and laboratory space in the Dunedin City Council-owned Wall Street complex in George Street.

This is to provide the design and call centre with capacity for a total of 230 staff, enabling the continuation of a growth plan that will see a 40% increase in design staff numbers by 2018. . .

Another good news story:

Dunedin-based cancer diagnostic company Pacific Edge is to receive $4.5 million in government grants towards research and development over the next three years.

Pacific Edge’s bladder diagnostic tool Cx-bladder is marketed in New Zealand, Australia, the US and soon Europe, and the listed Dunedin company holds patents for diagnostic and prognostic tests across a range of cancers, including colorectal, gastric and melanoma.

Pacific Edge chief operations officer Jimmy Suttie said the Government’s Callaghan Innovation Fund recognised the ability of Pacific Edge to turn scientific discovery into products which brought real benefits. . . .

It also had some bad news:

A sawmill company with about 400 employees and about $100 million in annual sales has been placed in receivership.

Brendan Gibson and Michael Stiassny, of KordaMentha, were this afternoon appointed as receivers of Dunedin-headquartered Southern Cross Forest Products.

The company has four sites in Mosgiel, Milton, Balclutha and Milburn around Dunedin and another site in Thames. In 2012, the last figures available, the company generated revenue of just under $95m. . .

There’s no good time to be worried about job security but it’s not as bad if job growth is strong.

Businesses come and go and so do jobs, and at the moment there’s more coming than going.


Photo: More jobs, more opportunities. Under National, New Zealand is going in the right direction.

Why is land special when F&P’s not?


When a Chinese company bought farmland there was an uproar even though they couldn’t take it away, they have to operate it here and employ people who live here and use local goods and services to do that.

Contrast that to the reaction since Chinese company Haier issued a takeover notice for Fisher and Paykel.

Since it’s a company they can take it, its jobs and  intellectual property away.

There has been concern about job losses but nothing like the fuss there would be if this was foreigners buying a farm.

Why is land special when F&P’s not?


Great minds . . .


Conspiracy theorists might see something sinister in the coincidence of  Garrick Tremain and Rod Emmerson coming up with a similar idea in today’s papers – the first in the ODT, the second in the NZ Herald.

I think it just shows that great cartoonists think alike.




By Rod Emmerson

Let’s not go back there


Phew, thank goodness the government appears to be back tracking  from suggestions yesterday that it would bail out Fisher and Paykel.

In a country where more than 90% of businesses employer fewer than 20 people, a company with 1600 staff is unusual and the impact of those job losses should the company collapse would be significant for the individuals, the wider commnity and the economy.

But the company is not about to collapse and even if it was I’m very wary of any suggestion that the government should invest to save it.

Easing the way should a foreign company wish to take a stake in the business would be okay but there’s nothing iconic about whiteware and even if there was that’s not a reason to invest taxpayers’ money in a company which makes it.

If there are any iconic industries here then they are those based on what we do best because of our climate and topography – growing grass and turning it into protein.

Fran O’Sullivan   writes about a couple of those, PGG Wrightson and Fonterra.

Speculation can easily turn into self-fulfilling prophesy so it’s important to make it clear that neither company is facing a situation which might make them need or ask for taxpayer assistance. However, if they were I’d be just as opposed to any suggestion of any government  investment in them as I am to the idea of a state bail out of F&P.

New Zealand dragged itself away from governement interference in, protection of  and subsidies to businesses in the 1980s with considerable pain for those caught in the fallout and we should resist any attempt to go back there.

There may be a difference between government investment in a company and a subsidy to producers, but I wouldn’t want to be in Tim Groser’s shoes if he was asked to explain that while putting New Zealand’s case for freeing up trade to our competitors.

If we make a sacred cow of a company which manufactures whiteware we’ll be in a much weaker position to argue against countries which build alters of subsidies for their primary producers.

For the record: I own a few Fisher & Paykel shares and our farm supplies Fonterra.

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