17 March 2007

New Zealand Institute releases "So far yet so close" report

A key issue for New Zealand's development is our remoteness from the global centres of economic activity. The New Zealand Institute, a privately funded think tank based in Auckland, published on 12 March 2007 an interesting discussion paper that seeks to address this issue. It is entitled So far yet so close: Connecting New Zealand to the global economy UPDATED (1.8Mb .pdf) and written by David Skilling and Danielle Boven. The paper is part of a series.

To highlight just one very interesting piece of analysis, Figure 4 (page 14) is a graph showing the connectivity of various international airports around the world including Auckland. The measure of connectivity used is more fully explained in an IATA Economics Briefing on Airline Network Benefits from January 2006. The disappointment to me is that some other key aviation hubs from a global perspective, such as Dubai, are not included in the graph.

Among other things, the New Zealand Institute discussion paper also looks at transport costs, the nature of the goods being shipped from New Zealand by air and sea, and has some conclusions about the importance of Air New Zealand to our economy (pages 23-24).

I think the phrase "tyranny of distance" used in the discussion paper comes from the Australian transport history book "The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia's History" written by Prof Geoffrey Blainey and first published in 1966. It is still an excellent read.

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