Manufacturing inquiry draws submissions

Company bosses are lining up to give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry launched by opposition party leaders who say there's a crisis in the manufacturing sector.

Hearings began in parliament on Monday and chairman Cameron Moore says there have been 131 written submissions so far.

There will be more hearings in Auckland, Christchurch and possibly Dunedin.

The government says there's no crisis and isn't taking part, but company and union representatives who gave evidence on Monday didn't leave MPs in any doubt about what they thought.

They all identified the high exchange rate as the reason why thousands of jobs are being lost, saying their exports weren't competitive on international markets.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union general secretary Bill Newson said the manufacturing sector had lost 40,000 jobs since 2008.

"Over last year we had an average two companies a week notifying redundancies as a result of downsizing, closing down or sending work overseas," he said.

"In all of those cases there was a common denominator - the high value and volatility of the New Zealand dollar."

Gordon Sutherland, managing director of bronze and brass producers A W Fraser, pleaded for government action.

"Our dollar is skyrocketing, volumes are under immense pressure in a very, very turbulent time and we sit back and do nothing," he said.

HamiltonJet managing director Keith Whitely told media the exchange rate was making it difficult for his world-leading water propulsion systems company to stay competitive.

Asked what he hoped would come from the inquiry, he said "perhaps a change of government".

The inquiry was launched by Labour, the Greens, NZ First and the Mana Party.

The opposition parties believe the government should intervene to bring the dollar down and have policies to change the Reserve Bank Act so it can do that.

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