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New Zealand First is the Party for Small Business

New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters
Speech to SME Business Leaders, Small Business Summit
Albany Campus, Massey University
1pm, Friday 4th September 2015

New Zealand First is the Party for Small Business


New Zealand First congratulates the organisers of this important conference. We thank you for the opportunity to explain how our policies support SMEs.

Our policy objectives are clear - in relation to SMEs, they are designed to help small to medium sized businesses thrive.

When SMEs grow, invest and innovate everyone wins – as they generate profits, jobs and tax revenue.

SMEs cover a wide spectrum as they operate in all sectors of our economy spread throughout New Zealand.

In reality, there are few major policies that do not have an impact on their performance in one way or another

That is why when thinking about support for SMEs a comprehensive approach is required.

When an SME driver is stuck in an Auckland traffic jam for hours that impacts on productivity.

When SMEs are faced with rapacious energy companies constantly putting up power prices that impacts on profitability.

When international corporates pay their fair share of tax, the tax burden on SMEs can be reduced. That is why we have been urging government to get serious about closing tax loopholes for corporates and multi-nationals.

What policies does your party have that support SMEs and help them develop further?

As the Waikato Times editorial noted yesterday: “Cabinet will certainly keep flag makers busy for a while, but in which country? ’‘Made in New Zealand’’ won’t necessarily be sewn into new flags if price decides who gets the job”.
New Zealand First is about growing and encouraging NZ manufacturing. We will not get rich if we continue as a first stage processing economy or outsourcing overseas
The primary functions of the Reserve Bank Act must change to include economic growth, export growth, the value of the dollar, employment and price stability.
Infrastructure is a priority, especially cellphone/wireless broadband outside the cities. It makes it hard to do business.
As is genuine Fair and Free Trade - we backed the “Pacific 4” agreement but do not support “political projects” like investor state dispute settlement, which impact SMEs especially.
New Zealand First’s Community Wage is about getting people into real work where it is needed and building skills by combining the unemployment benefit and the minimum wage in cooperation with businesses.
We must also rein-in unfocussed immigration that has created the Auckland property bubble and higher Deposit Ratios for the rest of the country.

At a macro level, New Zealand First’s economic policies are designed to put NZ on a sustainable path for long term growth and prosperity. Those are the optimal conditions for SMEs to thrive and grow.

This includes New Zealand First’s policy is to replace provisional tax with a business pay as you earn (P.A.Y.E) scheme. Provisional tax is a cumbersome tax – and if a business does make a tax error there are punitive interest penalties which only stunts business growth.
New Zealand First proposes a much simpler two-monthly rolling calculation tied with GST cycles for the payment of business income tax as it is earned – effectively Business P.A.Y.E.
When regional New Zealand prospers that creates opportunities for SMEs. New Zealand First has a range of policies to support regional development including our “Royalties for the Regions” policy.

New Zealand First policy is to protect and encourage the manufacturing sector, a sector that involves many roles for SMEs.

What proposed legislation or Bills our party plans to introduce that will assist SMEs?

Let’s outline briefly some of the specific NZ First legislation that will assist SMEs.

New Zealand First has a “Buy New Zealand (Procurement) Bill.”

Under this legislation, it would be compulsory for government departments, state- owned companies, and local government bodies to give first preference to New Zealand firms over foreign competitors whenever public contracts go to tender.
Public entities would have to consider factors such as job creation or retention, tax revenue generated, and contribution to Gross Domestic Product during the tender process. This legislation will provide a wide range of new business opportunities for NZ SMEs.
Reserve Bank of New Zealand amendment Bill (which failed twice by one vote)
Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Bill
Amend Research and Development Taxation
Offer special tax rebates for New Market Discovery

That is a snapshot of policies we are working on.
Would you Party support legislation that will reduce the powers of the Resource Management Act?

New Zealand First does not take a doctrinaire stance on the Resource Management Act.

In our view the RMA is not immutable – it is not set in stone. But the basic principles in the RMA should not be abandoned lightly.

In New Zealand First we go by the evidence. If there is a solid, sound case for change we will support it, like consistent codification throughout New Zealand.
Since being elected in 2008, National has had four major attempts at RMA reform; an amendment averaging every 20 months and it is still not fixed.

Would your party support legislation that reduces red tape on SMEs?

Politicians love red-tape but again, you here know what works, what doesn’t and what is ridiculous.
It must concern you that since 2008 there have been over 2,300 regulations!
We do believe there are opportunities to streamline some of the processes that impact SMEs in areas such as Local Body consenting and compliance and ACC and IRD – but refining and updating public compliance requirements should be ongoing.

So in a general sense while we favour eliminating Red Tape (who doesn’t?) we do not support an across the board bonfire of regulations as some zealots do.

Superficially, cutting regulations can look attractive. In New Zealand First we consider the longer term consequences. For example, no one should have to risk injury in doing their job.

Would you support legislation that reduces SME accountability with certain Employment laws due to them not having resources? E.g. Section 6A and select strategic H&S reporting?

New Zealand First takes a pragmatic and common sense approach to all legislation that impacts SMEs but we need to be good employees too.

Legislation is framed for big business with large HR teams; that’s the real issue.
National claims to be the party of small business but their Health & Safety “reforms” will add a mountain of red-tape given it demands new case law and the wide reach of “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking.”
We recognised that they would impose significant additional costs on SMEs.

For that reason we drafted practical and common sense amendments for the health and safety legislation that would have mitigated the unforeseen costs and consequences of the legislation. One of our amendments was to protect the wellbeing and livelihood of spouses in the event of accidental death in a workplace where the owners are both the boss and the worker. Others were personal safety kit responsibility, insurance, children accompanying parents and a “good Samaritan” clause.
National ignored such common sense amendments.
How well is the Government supporting SMEs?

Well you were promised PM John Key and you got Craig Foss instead, and he couldn’t turn up and National seemingly had no one to replace him.

One answer is given by comparing the difference between this year’s Australian and New Zealand Budgets in their treatment of SMEs. The New Zealand Budget made a token gesture to SMEs. In contrast, support for SMEs was a centrepiece of Joe Hockey’s Australian Budget.

SMEs were the big winner in the 2015 Australian Budget. The Australian Budget introduced accelerated immediate depreciation for SMEs for new business assets under $A20,000.

In New Zealand companies only get an immediate tax deduction on assets under $NZ500. A massive difference.

New Zealand First is not advocating Australian levels of support, but at the last election we did announce our policy for accelerated depreciation on plant and equipment.

New Zealand First is committed to supporting SMEs.

ENDS

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