16 Aug 2013

Book suggests NZ too reliant on primary sector

8:41 am on 16 August 2013

The Government is dismissing claims the country relies too much on the dairy and agriculture sectors.

Two award-winning New Zealand scientists, the late Sir Paul Callaghan and Professor Shaun Hendy, have written a book that says the Government needs to invest more in science and technology.

Get off the Grass says New Zealand's economy relies too heavily on the primary sector and is lagging behind because of a lack of innovation.

Professor Hendy told Morning Report if New Zealand wants to build on its clean and green image it needs to focus on industries which are not agriculture related.

He says New Zealand needs to specialise in high-tech niche innovations, similar to the way Finland backed Nokia in the early 1990s.

Labour Party finance spokesperson David Parker says the country has too many of its eggs in one basket right now.

He says New Zealand has to broaden its export base if it is to prosper and have plenty of job opportunities.

Mr Parker says the vulnerability of the economy has been highlighted by the recent Fonterra contamination scare.

Prime Minister John Key rejects the book's suggestion, saying New Zealand will succeed where it has a competitive advantage.

Mr Key says the Government has increased its science funding every year for the past five years.