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Govt Fails To Stall Non-urgent Business Reforms

The Government’s $12 billion economic package looks positive overall, but they’ve completely failed to reassess their legislative calendar which in many cases unnecessarily challenges small and medium-sized Kiwi businesses over the coming months, says a New Zealand entrepreneur.

“By just blindly soldiering on with their existing parliamentary programme, it forces many businesses to worry about future regulation instead of just keeping their doors open,” says Ben Pryor, Co-owner of Alt New Zealand – the largest Kiwi-owned vape company.

His comments come as the Health Select Committee calls for public submissions on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill. Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa has insisted on a fast-tracked process to enable the legislation to be passed before the election, meaning submissions will close in just two weeks - on 1 April.

“At no real cost to the taxpayer, the Government could’ve helped more businesses today. They should’ve put a hold on all non-coronavirus related regulation, which would’ve not only freed up business, but also Parliament and the select committees to do much more urgent work.”

Mr Pryor says at the very least the Government should abandon their initial plans to regulate the entire vape industry within three months and return to the usual parliamentary process of six months to pass good legislation, stretching out the submission period as well.

“We’re just one sector hugely affected by the Government’s legislative timetable, and despite everything nothing’s actually changed for any of us in that regard. We’ve now got to spend the next two weeks writing submissions, fly down to Wellington to present, and so it goes on. We’d rather be fighting for our staff’s jobs and our retail stores.”

He says his businesses, Alt New Zealand and Vapo, have always supported regulation and were pleased the bill had its first reading in Parliament earlier this month, but things have changed dramatically.

“Parliament is set to regulate our entire industry which we’d long called for that. But it’s crazy to think all that political, legal, health and business time, energy and cost will continue to be directed towards debating something completely unrelated to coronavirus or its impacts.

“Not one person in New Zealand has ever died from a vaping-related death, let alone a reported hospitalisation. Our industry needs to be regulated, but through fair process. Sadly, the package is negligent on giving many Kiwi businesses some simple breathing space on non-urgent industry reforms currently before Parliament,” says Mr Pryor.


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