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.”
Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson have cancelled billions of dollars of infrastructure projects whilst dressing up business as usual school maintenance grants as infrastructure investment, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Kiwis deserve the roads, transport and education infrastructure that National was delivering, not spin from a weak and wasteful government that’s failing to deliver on its promises.
“Today’s education announcement is less than it’s wasted on 300 plus government working groups and committees.
“This Labour-led Government’s poor economic policies have slowed New Zealand down and on its watch, New Zealand’s infrastructure plans are in disarray.
“Labour inherited a strong economy with GDP growth around four per cent. Latest ANZ and ASB forecasts predict a drop to two per cent at a cost of $1.7 billion in lost revenue each year.
“At the same time this Government has wasted billions on failing policies and isn’t delivering on the things that matter to hardworking Kiwi families.
“Our economy is slowing because of Labour’s failure to deliver. A complete stall in infrastructure spend and $400 million of business as usual school repairs and maintenance just won’t cut it.”
At the first opportunity Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson have thrown out their fiscal responsibility commitment to New Zealanders and confirmed they have wasted taxpayers’ money, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“This Labour-led Government has given up on sound economic management and must take responsibility for a slowing economy and increased costs on hardworking Kiwi households.
“Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson made a commitment to New Zealanders before the last election that they would not increase borrowing. They asked New Zealanders to trust them. They have broken that promise.
“They’ve spent the last two years slowing the economy, ramping up costs on businesses and wasting money on failed polices like KiwiBuild, Fees Free and Shane Jones’ slush fund.
“Kiwis are doing it tough under the weight of this Government’s rising costs and taxes.
“Jacinda Ardern must keep her fiscal responsibility promise to New Zealanders, rein in the wasteful spending, and cut taxes for hardworking Kiwi families.”
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.”