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Collins Comments 28 June 2004

Judith Collins MP for Clevedon

28 June 2004

Business competitiveness The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook ranks 60 countries on their ability to create an environment that fosters the competitiveness of enterprises. In 2004 Iceland was placed higher than New Zealand in several rankings. In economic performance Iceland was ranked 15th above New Zealand's 18th place. In Infrastructure Iceland was placed 8th compared to New Zealand's 26th ranking. But it gets worse. In business efficiency, Iceland came in 5th place and New Zealand 19th. Now this is not to undermine Iceland's ability but we have to remember Iceland has a population of 288,000 (estimated in 2002). New Zealand is huge in comparison and we are not competing economically.

The gap between Australia and New Zealand is also growing even further. Overall New Zealand slipped two places to 18th, while Australia moved up three places to 4th in the world competitiveness scoreboard.

Labour is hurting businesses. Labour's record on business law is looking very shady. Since 2002 Labour has made several changes to legislation that is disadvantaging businesses in New Zealand. Businesses are frustrated at continual new legislation, which makes it hard for them to grow. There are many examples. Here are just a few.

a.. Customs and Excise Amendment Regulations 2002 - $18 fee on every single minor commercial import entry.

a.. Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Bill - Will allow people applying for jobs to hide their convictions in many circumstances.

a.. Employment Relations Law Reform Bill - Makes new owners of businesses liable for redundancy payments.

- Imposes tests which are harder for an employer to meet before dismissing an employee.

a.. Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act 2002 - The terms "harm" and "hazard" now include injury through mental fatigue.

- The term "place of work" now includes inside vehicles and where a person is working in a transitory sense.

- Health and safety reps must have 2 more days paid leave to attend courses.

a.. Building Bill - Building work worth more than $10,000 will have to be carried out or supervised by a licensed "building practitioner". This has had a major impact on farmers.

a.. Holidays Act 2003 - Annual holiday entitlement increased from 3 weeks to 4 weeks.

- Time-and-a-half pay for work on a public holiday plus one day in lieu.

- Increased penalties for employers who get it wrong.

- 3 days leave for bereavement and 5 for sickness.

The implications of these changes are huge. Labour seems to be penalising businesses and making it harder for them to be successful. By looking at these changes to laws by the government, it is easy to see why New Zealand is ranked lower than Iceland. Labour is sucking money from businesses and preventing growth.

New School opening in Alfriston.

Last Friday I was invited to the opening of the new Alfriston College. It was a very enjoyable morning and as a local Member of Parliament, I was pleased to be invited. The school is sited on Porchester Road, exactly a half the width of the road outside the Clevedon Electorate. Of course, many of the students come from our electorate. We were told that this is the second new state secondary school opened in the last couple of decades. The first being Botany Secondary which is, by exactly a half a width of the road inside the Clevedon Electorate. It does make a nice change from all the school closures happening in the rest of New Zealand.


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