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Business Roundtable Endorses Call To Listen



The New Zealand Business Roundtable today endorsed Opposition leader Jenny Shipley's call on the government to withdraw the Employment Relations Bill and start again.

Executive director Roger Kerr said that the Bill was seriously eroding investment confidence and damaging international perceptions of New Zealand as a place to do business.

"The Bill is based on false economic premises, many of the government's claims about the Employment Contracts Act (such as its effects on productivity) are simply wrong, and the drafting of much of the Bill is unclear, legalistic and causing widespread uncertainty", Mr Kerr said.

To give investors confidence in New Zealand, major policy changes should be based on careful analysis and a proper process of consultation. The Regulatory Impact Statement accompanying the Bill was a travesty of the process required under the Cabinet Office Manual. In its submission on the Bill, the Business Roundtable said that it should not proceed further pending a proper policy analysis and consultative process which examined:

- the principles that should govern regulation of the labour market;

- problems with present arrangements; and

- reform options and proposals, having regard to the costs and benefits of particular regulatory provisions.

This process should be undertaken by an expert group and involve consultation documents and the opportunity for public submissions. Its starting point should be the Employment Contracts Act and a proper identification of problems with it. The current inquiries into the electricity and telecommunications industries provide possible models.

"It must be hoped that the government will heed such calls, which are coming from all parts of the business sector. If the government's welcome indications of a willingness to listen are to be regarded as credible, they must involve substance, not just words", Mr Kerr concluded.


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