The Government has failed the tourism sector by not taking the China-NZ Year of Tourism seriously, National's Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“As Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis quietly attended the closing ceremony this week he has overseen the first decrease in Chinese visitors in a decade. Numbers released today confirm visitors from China are down by 39,907, a nine per cent decrease in the year to September compared to 2018.
"The China-NZ Year of Tourism was an opportunity seized by the previous National Government to build upon the growing relationship between our two countries. But a distracted Government has fumbled this opportunity.
“This drop in visitors has a direct impact on small and median sized tourism businesses and means approximately $173 million less has been spent in the tourism economy.
“By comparison, Kelvin Davis is proud of his Government's new tourism tax which will only deliver $40 million a year for our tourism industry.
“This drop in tourism revenue is disappointing from a Government that’s piling costs on business and dragging revenue down.
"The Government isn’t delivering. It has added new taxes and costs to tourists and has overseen delays in visa processing which means fewer tourists are choosing to come and spend their time and money in New Zealand.
"New Zealand deserves a Government who actually delivers for our largest export industry.”
A one per cent saving in tariffs on wood and paper exports under the China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will leave exporters rightly asking themselves ‘is that it’, National’s Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.
"The $36 million of gains on wood the Prime Minister is promoting are insignificant when you consider the $32 billion worth of total trade with China.
“It’s clear the deal was always going to be done, however trade experts will be concerned the Government has settled with China because of difficulties in the relationship experienced by the New Zealand business community earlier this year.
“New Zealand officials have worked very hard and are to be commended. However, they have been let down by a distracted Government that has failed to prioritise trade.
“The Government now needs to prove itself in trade. RCEP will not deliver any significant gains for New Zealand’s agriculture, particularly dairy, if it’s even done.
“The fledgling US FTA is going nowhere fast because Jacinda Ardern has ruled out going to the White House to meet with President Trump anytime soon.
“The agriculture trade offer from the European Union is so underwhelming that officials don’t know what to do and the Government has stopped talking about the Pacific Alliance FTA. All of this is a 3/10 for trade.
“The Prime Minister needs to demonstrate to the New Zealand business community that they’re not willing to settle for any old deal. She needs to commit to the same high level outcome for agriculture trade with the EU as New Zealand has with the original China FTA and she should get to Washington ASAP, anything less will be another fail.”
Rather than kicking another tough decision down the road for the public to make, the Government needs to start doing its job and make a call on its so-called ‘fair pay’ agreements, National’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“In keeping with this year’s theme of non-delivery, the Workplace Relations Minister is avoiding making a decision on another of Labour’s big election promises.
“Labour campaigned on introducing 1970-style pay agreements, but after two years of Government and nine months since a working group report on the issue, all we’ve got is Iain Lees-Galloway asking the public what they would do if they were him.
“The reality is, the Government has realised these pay agreements will harm the economy by imposing new and higher costs on businesses.
“Forcing all workers in an industry to enter union negotiations if just 10 per cent of workers in the industry are in favour is compulsory unionism by stealth.
“The Government knows that pushing ahead with these pay agreements will see business confidence plunge even further and hurt its poll numbers, which is why it’s stalling for time.
“Iain Lees-Galloway needs to take action and just dump this terrible policy.”
The Government should scrap any plans it has to implement so-called ‘fair pay’ agreements, which are nothing more than a 1970s-style straightjacket on the economy, National’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The Government released a report from its working group in January and has been silent ever since. Presumably because it knows this policy will wreak havoc on our economy.
“It will force all workers in an industry to enter union negotiations if just 10 per cent of workers in the industry are in favour. That is compulsory unionism by stealth.
“These agreements will remove flexibility in our workplace and likely impose new and higher costs on businesses, harming our productivity and employment opportunities.
“What’s worse is that evidence shows these agreements won’t help the workers they are intended to benefit. Our employment relations will be sent back to the 1970s-style National Awards system, which failed to support workers or the economy.
“Business confidence is already at record lows, economic growth is plummeting, the Government is raking in a record amount of tax, and the number of Kiwis leaving New Zealand has doubled since last year.
“It’s clear the Government has realised that pushing ahead with these 1970s-style agreements will hurt its poll numbers. It’s time to back the business community and announce that FPAs are being abandoned once and for all.
“The last thing we need is this policy. The Government should just drop it.”
The Government’s clumsy implementation of its tourist tax has resulted in unofficial foreign websites popping up that could be misleading visitors and causing them to shell out even more than they need to because its own app is too difficult to use, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Kelvin Davis promised to make it easier for people to visit New Zealand, but his rushed implementation of the tourist tax has instead led to unofficial websites and a clunky app.
“Unofficial visa and tax payment services are charging tourists huge fees to get approval to visit New Zealand. That’s on top of the new taxes and fees the Government has already put in place for visitors.
“Meanwhile, the Government has released an official app, but each visitor has to use it separately, so families cannot pay the tax in one simple transaction. It’s bureaucratic and a hassle for travellers.
“MBIE is correcting as many as a thousand applications each week made through the app because it’s poor at reading passport numbers and names.
“The Government was warned its new tax would mean fewer visitors and a loss of up to $70 million for small businesses. Mr Davis ignored this advice and pushed ahead with his new tax under urgency in Parliament, and we’re already seeing the consequences of that with falling visitor numbers from major markets like India and China.
“Unofficial sites and an app that doesn’t do its job will only put tourists off even more.
“Kelvin Davis needs to sort out his app and shut down the websites which take advantage of tourists.”
The manufacturing sector deserves a government with a real plan for the economy following the third consecutive month of declining output, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The latest Performance of Manufacturing Index survey is reporting another month of contraction at a time when the economy should be strong. This is now a concerning trend.
“As this Labour-led Government collects extra taxes from hardworking Kiwis, the PMI is showing that manufacturing production has fallen to its lowest level since 2012.
“The world wants to buy New Zealand-made, but this Government’s policies are getting in the way.
“It needs to build infrastructure that moves people and goods around the country, free up businesses from costs and excessive regulations, remove the stringent anti-employer policies it’s introduced and focus on building real free trade deals.
“There’s so much this Government could do to support New Zealand businesses yet it’s asleep at the wheel.
“Ministers need to stop making excuses for the economy slowing down and get to work on delivering real policies to support our economy.
“National would deliver much-needed tax relief to New Zealanders through tax indexation and abolish the regional fuel tax. We’ll restore business confidence and revive the economy so that we can lift our aspirations, both in what we can earn and the social challenges we can overcome.”
At a time when Kiwis are doing it tough, Government Ministers need to stop making excuses and just do their jobs, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“There is no leadership. Ministers aren’t directing their departments and the Prime Minister isn’t holding her Ministers to account for their failures.
“The most recent privacy breach from Treasury under Grant Robertson’s watch is unacceptable, it’s the second Treasury breach of this kind in less than six months.
“This is a Minister that’s focused on overtaxing Kiwis, not protecting their privacy.
“On top of that, data – including the data of 71 children – has been released by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, personal details of patients have been released by a Primary Health Organisation and private details were stolen from the Commerce Commission from laptops that weren’t even password protected.
“In the year of delivery, all Jacinda Ardern and her Government can deliver are privacy breaches.
“In addition, Carmel Sepuloni has let overpayments to beneficiaries get out of control at the Ministry of Social Development, David Clark is missing in action in the midst of a measles epidemic, and Iain Lees-Galloway gave residency to a convicted drug smuggler.
“This Government’s policies are hurting New Zealanders and hardworking Kiwis deserve better.
“The cost of living has skyrocketed, with rents up $50 a week making it harder and harder to put a roof over your head, and the pile-on of petrol taxes driving day-to-day expenses up even further. The economy has declined sharply, business confidence is through the floor and there are 15,500 more people on the dole.
“After almost two years, there’s no more time for excuses. It’s time for Ministers to do their jobs.”
Less than 24 hours after revealing its coffers are overflowing with Kiwis hard-earned money, the Government has decided it’s not enough and it wants to slap Kiwis with another tax, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare has declared that he wants a sugar tax because like most issues the Government faces, its solution is another tax or a working group.
“Despite a $7.5 billion dollar surplus the Government still wants more money from your back pocket. The problem with a sugar tax is that it hurts low income New Zealanders the most and the evidence shows sugar taxes are ineffective at reducing obesity.
“This Government’s poor policy making decisions have seen median rents go up by $50 a week, the Government has legislated for an extra $1.7 billion in fuel taxes and now it wants to hike up your grocery bill.
“Health Minister David Clark has always wanted a sugar tax. He needs to tell New Zealanders if they will be whacked with another tax or whether his Associate Minister has gone rouge.
“National wants New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn. We won’t introduce any new taxes in our first term in Government. Instead we will prioritise spending on health, education and infrastructure and we will eliminate wasteful spending that doesn’t contribute to better outcomes for New Zealanders and their families.”
The Finance Minister’s fat pockets have come at the expense of hard-working New Zealanders who have been taxed to the eyeballs by this Government, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The Government should be looking to stimulate the economy by letting New Zealanders keep more of what they earn.
“Instead, it has piled on more and more taxes to the point where Grant Robertson is sitting on a big surplus while those living outside Wellington’s beltway struggle with rising living costs.
“One of the reasons debt is lower than forecast is because the Government is failing to invest in the infrastructure New Zealand needs.
“It has cancelled or delayed a dozen major new roading projects right across the country and replaced them with projects that weren’t ready, and won’t be ready for some time yet.
“Meanwhile, the Government has been piling on taxes. It has legislated to milk an extra $1.7 billion from motorists through fuel tax hikes and extra GST, while its misguided housing policies have pushed up rents and burdened landlords with extra costs and regulation.
“National legislated for tax relief that would have put more than $1000 a year extra into the back pockets of New Zealanders. This Government cancelled that.
“We will index tax thresholds to inflation so that New Zealanders aren’t taxed more by stealth every year because of the rising cost of living.”
A decision to overturn a ban on the expansion of the Waihi Gold Mine shows that the Government’s land and environment policies are in disarray and that Eugenie Sage is not capable of being the Land Information Minister, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Eugenie Sage has repeatedly let her Green Party ideology get in the way of making good decisions. The decision to override her is a vote of no confidence in the Greens and shows how unstable the coalition is.
“Ms Sage declined the expansion of the Waihi mine saying it was ‘inherently unsustainable, will increase emissions, and will provide only moderate employment benefits relative to winding down the operation and remediating the site’.
“Now that the Waihi Mine expansion has been agreed, Ms Sage must now remove her objections to the West Coast Hydro Scheme and let this project go ahead also.
“It’s no wonder business confidence is so low under this Government. This application should never have been turned down. The Government has an incoherent plan for economic development. The inconsistencies in decisions means businesses need a crystal ball to have any idea what the Government will do.
“National would make rational decisions, bring back certainty to businesses and inject confidence back into the business sector. The Prime Minister needs to show some leadership and take this portfolio off the Greens.”