100% Pure festering sore | The Jackal

6 Aug 2013

100% Pure festering sore

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

China's state-run news agency has delivered a sharp critique of New Zealand in the wake of Fonterra's contamination crisis, describing this country's 100 per cent Pure tourism campaign as a "festering sore" and saying free market ideology resulted in Kiwi homes becoming damp, leaky and uninhabitable.

Clearly the 100% Pure marketing campaign is aspirational at best. With 61% of our waterways being too polluted to even swim in, mainly due to farm runoff, the government simply cannot keep promoting New Zealand in such an obviously dishonest way.

John Key even acknowledged that the 100% Pure brand isn't real when in April this year he compared it to McDonald's "I'm Loving it". Clearly such slogans should be taken with a 'pinch of salt'. However, it is doubtful that the Prime Minister will ever admit that the leaky building debacle was caused by free market ideology...similar ideology to that being once again argued for by National. They want to open up more land and reduce the consent process for new housing projects, measures that will only benefit the developers. The end goal is to make even more money while the public is left with an inferior and in many cases dangerous product.

It's little wonder then that other countries are noticing the failure of New Zealand's capitalist system. Governments in places like China clearly don't see any distinction between Fonterra and our current government, and quite rightly so. Deregulation and a lack of safety checks is likely to blame for this latest failure, a failure that will cost New Zealand millions if not billions of dollars in lost trade.

In an editorial article published on a number of major Chinese news websites overnight, Xinhua says the time has come to ask the New Zealand Government, "Where is the quality control?"

The news agency, regarded as a mouthpiece of China's Government, says this country's food safety problems are not "mere details" - they are beginning to look systemic.

"One could argue the country is hostage to a blinkered devotion to laissez-faire market ideology. Many New Zealanders fell victim to this when the construction industry was deregulated two decades ago resulting in damp and leaky homes that quickly became uninhabitable," Xinhua said.

"While it's true the government isn't responsible for the contamination of Fonterra produce, it should be held accountable for the fact that nothing was done to identify the problem before it was dispatched to export markets and domestic customers."

With the previous Melamine and DCD contamination problems which were both similarly badly handled by Fonterra, no wonder the Chinese government perceives there to be serious endemic faults with our deregulated system. The main issue here is why has it taken so long for Fonterra to inform the public about the potential for botulism in their baby products? Also, why haven't the authorities managed to properly inform the public about what products are likely contaminated?

In light of this more recent failure, Russia and China halting all imports of New Zealand made dairy products is justified. However, Tim Groser isn't saying this because he accepts there to be widespread issues with our system and its oversight. He doesn't care that the proper tests are lacking. The Minister of Trade along with John Key only cares about trying to quieten the latest round of discontent from our export markets. It is pretty obvious that National has no long-term plan to increase safety and it won't be until we have a change in government that any progressive and positive change is implemented.

So, how exactly will New Zealand repair the damage caused by a lack of proper regulations and how will we diversify our production base to create a more robust economy? Simply swapping brands isn't going to fix anything...because it's the New Zealand brand that is now tainted.

Firstly, we must ensure that appropriate regulations are implemented as soon as possible. These regulations must ensure that the proper checks and balances are in place to reduce the risk of further contamination occurring. New Zealand must also diversify into cleaner and greener production techniques that don't have such a serious detrimental impact. One industry springs to mind, organics. Reducing the amount of chemicals used will reduce the risk of contamination and also mean our 100% Pure branding actually stands for something. Because at the moment, under this failed National government, it effectively means nothing!