The Government must be more agile when it comes to allowing businesses to keep operating during the lockdown if they can prove they can do so safely, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Our economy has already faced unprecedented devastation since the Government closed it down, we should be doing all we can help revive it and protect businesses and jobs.
“To date the decision making has been too arbitrary and there are too many inconsistencies. For instance, allowing dairies to open but not local butchers or greengrocers, agriculture to continue but not forestry, cigarettes to be manufactured but community newspapers cannot be printed.
“If a business proves it can operate safely, provide contactless selling and ensure physical distancing then they should be able to operate.
“It seems wrong that New Zealanders can order goods from overseas but can’t order the same thing locally. The thousands of small home business in particulars that meet the Covid-19 health a safety guidelines should be allowed to recommence activity.
“Our economy has already suffered so much, we should be doing everything we can to breathe some life back into it quickly, as long as it is done safely.”
There needs to be more fairness and common sense applied to determining what essential services can safely open, National’s Economic Development and Small Business spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Nearly a week into the lockdown there continues to be uncertainty about what is and is not considered a safe essential service. It’s important that the public receives clarification quickly.
“National MPs have continued to be contacted by people concerned about not being able to shop at their local butcher or fruit and vegetable store.
“I am also very concerned at the closure of all community and weekly newspapers in New Zealand and have called on the Government to reconsider this immediately. Community news outlets deliver 1.3 million papers free of charge each week and for many vulnerable people this is their only source of news. Community papers are an important platform to keep people informed during Covid-19.
“It doesn’t make sense that cigarette manufacturers are being considered essential services but independent grocers and community newspapers are not.
“As the Government looks at allowing halal butchers to reopen, I urge them to go further and revisit the limited opening of local butchers and greengrocers, particularly in smaller communities that might not have access to supermarkets.
“Where a local butcher, fruit and vege shops or community newspapers can show that they are able to follow the Covid-19 social distancing and health and safety protocols safely, including the delivery of newspapers, the Government should allow them to open to the public.”
The Government’s decision to close down all community and weekly papers must be reversed, National’s Economic Development and Small Business spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The decision that only paid daily newspapers can continue to publish during the lockdown is wrong. It means many New Zealanders will now be without the news they have come to depend upon and now need during the lockdown.
“The New Zealand Independent Community Newspapers Association represents more than 80 independent publications around the country. Their President David Mackenzie has assured me his members fully accept and respect the Covid-19 social distancing and health and safety protocols. Therefore they should be allowed to continue publishing.
“These businesses have invested heavily in making changes to the way they operate. The majority of them are small publishers whose staff are now working safely and completely remotely.
“Many of our most vulnerable citizens rely heavily upon community newspapers for social interaction and access to news. This is particularly true in our smaller communities, rural areas and within New Zealand’s ethnic communities.
“Community newspapers provide an important platform to keep the wider public informed on Covid-19. Many elderly do not have easy access to internet or social media and are often not subscribed to or buy daily papers. People should not be forced to pay for their news because of Government restriction.
“While these are unprecedented times, media outlets should not be closed arbitrarily - free speech is a pillar to a functioning democracy.
“I call on the Government to revisit this decision and allow independent community newspapers that meet the requirements of social distancing and Covid-19 health and safety protocols to be allowed to continue publishing the news.”
The Government needs to ensure there is continued fair access to food and that it remains affordable, National’s Economic Development and Small Business spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Given only a select group of retail operators have been granted permission to trade, it is incumbent upon them and the Government to ensure food prices are kept fair and competitive.
“Already there are reports of prices in some places going up quickly which is extremely concerning. The Government needs to continually assess which retail food shops are able to trade and to monitor all price escalation.
“Where there is evidence of prices escalating unreasonably, the Government must take swift action.
“National calls on retail food stores who are able to open to be responsible and not abuse their privileged position.
“The Government needs to ensure all communities have access to local food shops, including those in isolated and rural areas. They should further consider the decision that local butchers and fruit and veg shops cannot open where dairies can.
“Authorised food retailers and the public should at all times following the strict social distancing protocols. It make sense for the Government to continually review and refine the framework around access to vital food supplies.”
The Government should review the framework that determines which grocery services can open during lockdown so our communities don’t struggle with access to vital food supplies, National’s Economic Development and Small Business spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“With New Zealand now in lockdown there continues to be uncertainty about what is and is not considered an essential service, and it’s important that this is clarified quickly.
“National MPs have been contacted by people concerned about not being able to shop at their local butcher or fruit and vegetable store.
“We are calling on the Government to revisit the limited opening of butchers and fruit and vegetable stores, particularly in smaller communities that might not have access to other food services.
“Many people live relatively close to supermarkets but choose to do their weekly shop at local butchers and greengrocers because of the unique products they sell. This is especially true of our ethnic communities who tend to shop at speciality stores.
“Allowing them to trade in the same way as dairies during the lockdown makes sense. This will give certainty to people as they grapple with the new restrictions.
“Health and safety is paramount but we also need to ensure people can access essential supplies within their community and don’t have to travel further than necessary.”
A National Government will make wholesale regulatory reduction to reduce cost and compliance on businesses and help get the country moving again, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“New Zealanders and their business are struggling under the weight of poor regulation and mounting costs. National understands how hard it’s become for the average Kiwi household and Kiwi business and we will focus on reducing the cost of regulation for hardworking New Zealanders.
“One of the most common things I get feedback about when I’m out and about is how the Anti-Money Laundering legislation is applied. It was introduced so New Zealand was compliant with international obligations and to protect our interests against illegitimate money laundering.
“The reality is the legislation has influenced how New Zealanders do business which has resulted in more costs. To fix this, National will be providing guidance to industry via a National Policy Statement. This means the law will be interpreted how it’s meant to be, in a less costly manner.
“Health and safety is important and National will not compromise the safety of New Zealanders.
“However, we are conscious the existing health and safety regulations go too far in some places without making people safer and burden businesses with added cost for no benefit.
“Put simply, the health and safety regulations need more common sense from the rule makers. That’s why we’ll implement a ‘common sense test’ which makes sure the benefits of each regulation outweighs the costs, makes health and safety regulations easier to implement and ensures that we have better regulation not just more regulation.
“Only National understands the burdens that are being placed on households and businesses by excessive red tape. We will ensure families have more money in their pockets, we will lower costs and ensure red tape isn’t stopping progress.”
The Government’s proposals for more regulation in New Zealand’s film industry will put jobs at risk, National’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First are seeking to repeal National’s legislation governing the film industry and impose collective agreements across the sector.
“Repealing the laws that encouraged films like the iconic Hobbit trilogy to be made in New Zealand isn’t just counterproductive, it’s harmful.
“The Government’s own advice shows that the current law is working to support more jobs and more investment into New Zealand.
“There is little to no evidence that the changes will do anything to help Kiwi workers. What we do know is that it will impose more cost and regulation on Kiwi businesses.
“They are seeking to remove flexibility from the industry, impose new costs onto employers and hand over more power to unions.
“The film industry brings in over $3 billion in revenue and creates tens of thousands of jobs.
“The Labour/Green/ New Zealand First Government’s changes will mean less investment in films with movie makers more likely to head offshore, which means fewer jobs in the film industry and an economy that will slow further.
“Instead of celebrating the success of New Zealand’s film industry, Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First seem intent on putting that success at risk.”
Another contraction in the manufacturing sector shows the need for a government with a real plan for the economy, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The latest Performance of Manufacturing Index survey is reporting another month of contraction, meaning the glimmer of hope at the end of last year has flickered out.
“This is particularly concerning at a time when New Zealand products are receiving record prices overseas.
“The economy should be strong and growing, but instead we have seen a sharp downward trend for manufacturers since this Government took over.
“The decline in manufacturing mirrors the decline in economic growth generally – a decline that is occurring because of the Government’s policies.
“Higher taxes, higher costs, stalled infrastructure, burdensome regulation and proven incompetence is putting the brakes on economic opportunities for businesses and workers.
“We need a government committed to lowering costs for New Zealand businesses and freeing up their ability to do business.”
Confirmation that the Government’s unbalanced minimum wage rise could cost 17,000 jobs and lump taxpayers with a $125 million bill is an alarm bell for small businesses, National’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Todd McClay says.
MBIE’s recently-released Minimum Wage Review 2019 reveals the Labour-led Government’s proposed change to $18.90 per hour on April 1 will cost the economy 6500 jobs and increase Government expenses by $62m a year, as well as drive up inflation.
Moving to a $20 an hour minimum wage by 2021, which the Government is proposing, could cost the economy 17,000 jobs and increase expenses by $125m a year.
“The minimum wage changes will see small businesses struggle more at a time when the Government should be supporting them, not working against them,” Mr McClay says.
“The Government is making it harder for small businesses to employ people, harder for them to invest in training and development, and harder for them to get ahead.
“These projections could prove to be much larger if our economy continues to slow and the labour market weakens, as it has already under the Labour-led Government.
“Everyone wants high wages for workers, which is why National increased the minimum wage every year in Government. But we believe the minimum wage should go up in a balanced way that doesn’t go too far, too fast.
“Hard-working Kiwis are already doing it tough because of the Labour-led Government’s poor policies, which are driving up the price of petrol, rent and other living costs.
“The best way to put more money in workers’ pockets is to let them keep more of what they earn. What good is raising the minimum wage if workers are being taxed to the eyeballs?”
While today’s increase in the minimum wage will be good for some, it will cost jobs and impose large costs for small businesses throughout the country, National’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The Government’s own official advice shows increases to the minimum wage of this magnitude will stop thousands of new jobs being created.
“It means employers are less likely to create jobs, less likely to invest in training and development and less likely to replace workers when they leave. This will take away opportunities for New Zealanders.
“New Zealand already has one of the highest minimum wages in the world and today’s change will impose significantly higher costs for businesses who will have no choice but to increase their prices. This will further add to the rising cost of living and disproportionality effect people on low incomes.
“New Zealanders are already feeling the effects of high petrol prices and increasing rents, removing opportunities for work is only going to make matters worse.
“National is committed to securing high wages for workers, that’s why we increased the minimum wage every year in Government. However we believe the minimum wage should go up in a balanced way that doesn’t go too far, too fast.”