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Economy's engine room needs more gas

Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader

21 August 2003

Economy's engine room needs more gas

A small business package that includes a 90-day trial period for new employees and the opening up of ACC to competition are being discussed by the National Party Caucus at its two-day meeting in Christchurch.

"If New Zealand is to enjoy a higher sustainable growth rate, National believes we need a framework that enhances practical outcomes for both employer and employee," says National Party Leader Bill English.

"With mounting speculation about radical changes to the Employment Relations Act, it's now more important than ever for the influence of the Trade Union movement to be put in check.

"Some 85% of our businesses employ five people or less, but they're being slowly strangled by increasing red tape, new compliance costs and the threat of more intervention by central Government," says Mr English.

"The new measures we know about include changes to OSH Law and the Holidays Act but there's more coming in the form of the push for four weeks annual leave.

"Now there's talk of new rules that will make it more difficult for employers to dismiss staff and extra obligations on those taking over existing businesses," Mr English says.

"National will retain the current legislative framework of the Employment Relations Act, but it plans to introduce substantial amendments to make it more flexible.

"The changes being looked at include the introduction of an optional 90-day trial period that would be agreed to by both employer and employee," he says.

"That 90-day cooling off period will give employers an opportunity to take more risks in job appointments and give workers a chance to prove themselves.

"The National Party also believes people should have the freedom to choose what sort of accident cover they want," says Mr English.

"Competition between insurers will reduce ACC costs to the public and businesses and increase the range of services available to them.

"Business should not be expected to pick up the tab for Labour's ideological agenda.

"The Government has already backed down on its goal to return New Zealand to the top half of the OECD in a decade and the longer term outlook shows a further erosion of our growth prospects.

"Small business needs to have the freedom to roll with the punches, our economy's engine room needs more gas," Mr English says.

Ends

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