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Small business owners will be disappointed to hear that the Government’s Small Business Council is too busy to listen right now because it has been asked to advise on establishing a new working group, National’s Small Business spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“In a classic ‘Yes, Minister’ scenario, the Council has been tasked with advising Small Business Minister Stuart Nash on the establishment of a Small Business Institute, or to put it plainly, a working group will advise on whether to create another working group.

“The Council, which will also advise on its own future beyond June 2019, is one of more than 180 working groups hatched by a Government that came to office without having worked out its policies during nine years in Opposition. It prefers to use $135,000 of taxpayer money to pay for this working group.

“Not only that, but we haven’t heard anything from the Small Business Council since it was unveiled by Mr Nash two months ago. Mr Nash has also been silent, other than to tell us this week that he’s off to Australia to meet his counterparts.

“Small business owners might have thought a priority for this Government would be to listen to a group that makes up 97 per cent of all New Zealand firms and employs more than 600,000 Kiwis, given their confidence has slumped to a 10-year low. But that will have to wait.

“This is a Government stacked with career bureaucrats so perhaps it has difficulty reaching out to small firms at a grass-roots levels.

“By contrast, National is trying to listen – some 2400 small businesses responded to our survey and their biggest concerns were red tape, changes to employment law, rising taxes and costs, difficulty finding skilled staff and uncertainty about Government policies.

“Small businesses should be an urgent focus of the Government because their uncertainty is driving their decisions right now, like cutting jobs and winding back investment. National is listening because we respect small business owners and we recognise their contribution to our economy and our communities.”

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