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Not Such A Good Friday After All


Not Such A Good Friday After All

Weekly Column by Dr Muriel Newman

As the nation heads into Easter, not all are looking forward to a ‘Good’ Friday. This week the Column looks at the Government’s efforts to cripple small business.

On Good Friday, New Zealand will take on a 1970s look as businesses throughout the country close their doors in response to the Government’s latest industrial relations law changes.

New changes to the Holidays Act, which came into force on April 1, require that employees who work on a public holiday be paid time-and-a-half, instead of their ordinary rate, and receive a day off in lieu. For many businesses, the numbers just don’t add up – the costs of remaining open and doing business far outweigh the potential returns – and it simply makes economic sense to close.

During the Select Committee process, employer representatives told the Government that its proposed changes would result in businesses having to close or pass their costs onto customers. That warning fell on deaf ears. Like other socialist governments around the world, Labour is not driven by the country’s greater good, but by more powerful ideological forces – in this case, the demands of a trade union movement that elicits industrial relations favours in return for financial support.

As a result of the new law changes many businesses throughout New Zealand – which have traditionally opened on Good Friday – will close. Further, while some businesses have the choice of closing, others don’t. Apple-growers, for example, experience their busiest time of year over Easter. They have no option but to continue working to get the fruit off the trees. According to one industry worker, the new legislation would cost the relatively small operation she is involved in an additional $150,000 if people were employed over the break. She believes the law changes demonstrate a real lack of thought for grassroots New Zealand. She says Labour would probably dismiss her concerns as ‘nonsense’, saying that orchardists can easily afford such cost increases: “I believe that was also the excuse used by Robin Hood”.

Good Friday’s small business closures will be reminiscent of those bygone days when New Zealand used to close down on public holidays and weekends. Not only that, but the whole country was highly regulated as well: pubs were forced to close at 6pm, a doctor’s permit was needed to buy margarine, you had to be willing to renounce your citizenship if you wanted to invest overseas, a permit was needed to purchase an overseas journal, if you wanted to transport goods more than 40 miles by truck you had to seek the permission of the Railways – and if you wanted to buy a carpet made of anything other than wool, you were just plain out of luck.

Labour would, undoubtedly, dispute that its objective is a return to such a highly regulated society. But, if you run a small business, you could be excused for believing otherwise – especially when the raft of additional legislation affecting the small business sector is taken into consideration: increases in the minimum wage, introduction of paid parental leave, extension of holiday and sick leave entitlements, harsher penalties for employee stress, proposed restrictions on the sale of a business, as well as the threat of compulsory unionism and the escalated risk of strike action.

On top of all that are problems and costs associated with critical labour shortages and a significant infrastructure failure – escalating power prices, congested roads, exorbitant rate increases, and a Resource Management Act that obstructs growth and progress.

These impediments sap productivity and build to the point where small business can no longer absorb the cost burden. At that stage, businesses have to consider increasing costs and face losing customers – or simply closing their doors.

Just last week a poultry farmer issued the following notice with every pack of eggs sold, in order to explain the April 1 30-cent per dozen price increase: “Due to the new government regulations and their intelligent wasting of other people’s money, all poultry farms with over 100 chooks now have to have a Risk Management Plan. This is expected to cost around $20,000.

“The new regulations, certification and associated extra testing is too much for our small business to absorb and unfortunately we will have to raise our egg price to help cover some of these extra costs. Without this certification we will not be allowed to sell our eggs and will have to close down. This is the reason why other smaller units have already closed.

“We are sorry to have to pass on this increase. We have tried to keep it as small as possible. Please feel free to ask for more information – we are happy to complain about government paperwork and fees anytime!” Small business is the backbone of this country, generating the nation’s wealth and employing the country’s workers. Surely any sensible government would be bending over backwards to help our battling small businesses to grow and prosper – cutting taxes, repealing and reforming debilitating laws and regulations, slashing red tape and bureaucracy, and investing in essential infrastructure – certain in the understanding and knowledge that small business success is the nation’s success.

QUESTION:

Would you support a government that prioritised small business success through the cutting of taxes, the repealing and reforming of debilitating laws and regulations, the slashing of red tape and bureaucracy, and the investment in essential infrastructure?

Results of Previous Column polls

Do you think it is time for the Family Court to be more open? 99% YES Would you like to see a scheme involving individualised retirement savings accounts developed for New Zealand? 99%Yes

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