Mike Smith: Failure to change economy will cause 'catastrophic disaster'

By Bronson Perich, Tapatahi

A climate change advocate is calling for a reset of our national economy. Iwi leaders forum climate change chair, Mike Smith, explains what would happen if we do not build an environmentally sound economy.

“If we go back to business as usual, we will witness a catastrophic disaster that will make COVID-19 look like a picnic,” Mike Smith says.

With businesses shut down, and people having no jobs to go to, Smith says that now is the time to change the way we do things.

“Our economy was already broken as far as many Māori are concerned. An economy that doesn’t deliver for a significant section of its population, namely Māori and other poor people in our communities, is a broken economy, it’s not working,” Mike Smith says.

Borrowing money to pay for road projects, Smith says is a ‘dollars for dinosaurs’ approach that will not help our people long term. Smith called for equity spread, where the government would invest in projects that would benefit everyone.

Speaking of the impact of COVID-19, Smith called for caution. The climate change advocate did not want to see the country going back to normal, only for COVID-19 to return. He was happy that COVID-19 made the government house the homeless, and feed the hungry.

“Why wasn’t that happening five months ago? Why has it taken a crisis to find the solutions?” Mike Smith says.

He noted the ‘phenomenal’ work of Māori in helping each other through COVID-19. He also expressed his belief that Māori have a part to play in making lasting change for the better.