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A Nation Hurting For Leadership…..

26 September 2001

Media Release

A Nation Hurting For Leadership¡K..

A more positive, pro-active response from Government to motivate New Zealanders to believe in themselves and the nation’s future.

This is the overwhelming call in a snap Chamber of Commerce survey conducted yesterday into the impact on business of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The survey asked five questions and produced 400 responses within a matter of hours.

Twenty percent (20%) of respondents described the Government’s response to the terrorist attacks as “very bad” and just 2% as “very good”.

Fifty per cent (50%) said the Government’s response was “neither good nor bad” and 22% said Government’s response was “good”.

In other key findings:

- 57% expected their business to be adversely affected by the attack, while 43% did not.

- 67% felt less confident about business prospects in general compared to a month ago, which is almost double the response to a similar question in the Chamber’s regular business opinion survey last month.

Asked whether the general business situation in their own business would improve, remain the same or deterioriate within the next six months, 42% replied the same, 31% said it would deteriorate, and 27% said it would improve.

When asked the same question a month ago, results were:

- same 29%

- deteriorate 7%

- improve 63%

Fifty-six per cent (56%) of respondents said that they did not expect their business to benefit from the interest rate cut announced late last week by Reserve Bank Governor Dr Don Brash, while 44% said they would benefit from the cut.

Commenting, Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the anecdotal comments reinforced that since September 11 many businesses had put planning on hold.

“Travel plans had been stopped, employment halted and investment decisions canned.”

“Someone is going to have to turn the key in the lock and give New Zealanders the “Go Forward’ sign”, he said.

When this survey is put against the Chamber’s regular surveys, the confidence of a month ago has gone out the window by a massive 67% - “the impact on business of this event has been huge and obviously under-estimated by Government.”

“But what I find interesting is that the response was as New Zealanders, not as simply businesses. There is a huge expectation that there should have been stronger leadership statements from our Prime Minister.”

The comments of Chamber members confirm that those leadership statements could have/should have been:

- We are a small nation, and whether it is our trade or sport, we can make a difference;

- We are not dependent on any one market for our prosperity.

- We can be and should be fast-footed to adjust to the new global environment - just as we did in the 1997 Asian crisis.

- We should be looking at encouraging every New Zealander in every way possible to secure their business and participate and contribute.

- We must align ourselves strongly with the United States cause.

- We have to press our own buttons and want a strategy to do that.

Another unsolicited comment that came through repeatedly in the survey is the demand that Government act swiftly to “save our airline”.

“I am, frankly, overwhelmed at the number of responses that urged the Prime Minister to address the nation directly and to acknowledge the reality of uncertainty and despair that is still affecting many New Zealanders.”

As one respondent put it, “the USA have help-lines, counselors and advice on how to talk to your kids about this. Our PM seems to have forgotten our children and appears very insular to national concerns.”

For more information, contact: Michael Barnett ph (09) 309 6100 or 021 631 150

ATTACHED FULL RESULTS...

Survey Report - Business Confidence Special Update

Respondents: 400 business decision makers

Do you expect your business to be adversely affected as a result of the terrorist attack on the U.S.A?

Yes 57%

No 43%

From a business perspective how would you rate Government’s response to the situation?

Very good 2%

Good 22%

Neither good nor bad 50%

Bad 4%

Very bad 20%

Do you feel more confident or less confident about business prospects in general, than you did a month ago?

Same 26%

More confident 7%

Less confident 67%

Do you consider that the general business situation in your own business will improve, remain the same, or deteriorate during the next six months?

Same 42%

Deteriorate 31%

Improve 27%

When we asked this question one month ago results were:

Same 29%

Deteriorate 7%

Improve 63%

Do you expect your business to benefit from the interest rate cut announced by the Govenor of the Reserve Bank?

Yes 44%

No 56%


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