Labour’s David Parker has shown remarkable ignorance of his own Government’s poor economic record with his claim today that a current account deficit of 7% puts New Zealand’s economy in a ‘danger zone’, ACT Leader John Banks said today
“Under the last Labour Government, the current account deficit was 8.7%, 8.0%, 8.0%, and 7.9% of GDP in the years ended March 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 respectively. But did we hear Labour warning of us of the ‘danger zone’ then?” Mr Banks said.
“Labour claims that it’s the policies of the National Government that has caused our economic growth to suffer. But the reality is, it’s National’s failure to wind back Labour’s wasteful spending binges that’s the problem.
“Labour’s policies of big government spending undermined the competiveness of exports and firms competing with imports, and turned surpluses in the balance between exports and imports into deficits.
“But rather than see the error of their ways, Labour is doomed to repeat their mistakes.
“Labour’s continued commitment to intrusive regulation of New Zealanders’ financial affairs, its antipathy to commercial enterprise and its love of big, wasteful and ineffectual government programmes show that it has learnt nothing from the mess the Clark-Government had made of the economy by 2008.
“If David Parker and Labour are serious about improving competiveness, they should join with ACT in calling for less government spending and lower tax rates to give our internationally exposed industries a greater ability to compete. Less restrictive labour market legislation and RMA reform would also help,” Mr Banks said.
中小企业占了新西兰企业总数的 97%，并贡献率了40%的国内生产总值。当前大部分中小企业生存艰难， 他们与供应商的议价能力微乎其微， 也没有能力应对持续上涨的运营成本。
National’s decision to increase the minimum wage will see more business failures and more jobs lost, ACT Leader John Banks said today.
“At a time when National should be getting out of the way of business, it’s putting greater barriers in place,” Mr Banks said.
“Small businesses make up 97% of all enterprise within New Zealand and account for 40% of our GDP. Most are struggling as they have little to no bargaining power with suppliers and do not have the capacity to absorb on-going cost increases.
“A member survey by Hospitality New Zealand last year found that 48% of hospitality owner/operators paid themselves less than the minimum wage.
“If employers can’t afford to pay themselves the minimum wage, how can they be expected to pay their employees even more?
“The minimum wage increase will impact most on those who can least afford it - low-skilled workers. It will price them out of the market, consigning them to a benefit.
“We have seen this with the abolition of the youth minimum wage: Statistics New Zealand released its December quarterly report which put the youth unemployment rate at 30.9 per cent - the highest rate for at least 30 years.
“Of course we would all like to see employees earn higher wages. But arbitrarily raising the minimum wage via regulation rather than through an increase in productivity will only result in job losses,” Mr Banks said.
I rise on behalf of the ACT Party and the people of Epsom to support the Statement from the Prime Minister.
Over the summer break I have been out-and-about talking to New Zealanders - taking stock.
New Zealanders are working harder and longer for less.
What they want is the freedom to achieve though their own effort and enterprise.
They don’t want hand outs - most reject the entitlement society.
They back the Prime Minister. They rate John Key.
They don’t see Labour, the Greens and Winston First – the coalition of the Dispirited, the Deluded and the Bewildered - as an alternative Government.
They don’t see David Shearer as a Prime Minister, even less Russel Norman as Finance Minster.
I tell them that under MMP it could happen. They tell me to work hard to make sure it doesn’t.
I will be.
The ACT Party and the people of Epsom back John Key as Prime Minister. But we want him to do more to resist and roll back the entitlement society.
We want this Government to expand the freedom to achieve.
What Labour promises in hands-on-government is a government of hand outs - the sapping culture of entitlement.
In Labour’s world to get ahead is to put your hand in the pocket of the taxpayer.
It is not about the freedom to achieve through the enterprise of your efforts. It’s about taking from someone else’s hard work.
Young Aucklanders want to buy or build a home with a back yard. Yet the median house price in Auckland is now almost seven times the median household income.
Auckland is almost as unaffordable as London.
We know that housing unaffordability is complex. However the major culprit is central and local government – the RMA, metropolitan urban limits and building regulation.
What’s the Opposition response?
Labour promises to build government houses to fix a problem largely created by government. No word on where the money will come from to build ten thousand houses a year. Mr Shearer promised $300,000 dollar homes. Now he’s backtracked and said $300,000 is just the median value. In Auckland they will be chicken coops.
On Sunday, Mr Shearer told the country that he is going to hold a conference this year to work out his policy. That’s after he has announced it. Not good enough.
Labour have shown they are not serious. They have not uttered one word on RMA reform.
Here is my prediction; they will vote against every major RMA reform this year that will help young New Zealanders get their first home without a government handout.
Now the Greens won’t be outdone in the auction of make-believe money.
For them the Government will not only build the house but loan you the money to buy it. What they won’t say is how many houses or how much it will cost.
What we do know is that you can’t have a backyard for the kids to play in and the RMA can’t be touched.
After promising make believe houses with make-believe money, the next day the Greens attacked the dairy industry that helps New Zealand earn its way in the real world and pays the taxes they are so keen on spending.
For them wealth is created by the printing press - not by working hard, taking risks, selling things other people want and saving.
This year we need major RMA reform.
I have told the Government we have a one-in-twenty year chance to get it right and get it done.
We need to be bold. ACT will be helping.
In other areas, the Government is moving towards giving New Zealanders the freedom to achieve and away from the policies of handouts and the politics of entitlement that the Opposition are keen on.
ACT wants National to pick up the pace.
Here are three examples.
Partnership Schools are about the freedom to achieve for talented educators, dedicated parents, and for kids who need a break. It gives educators another option in our education system, a system that currently sees almost one in five students missing out.
We will have a Bill providing for regulatory standards around increased disclosure for Government Bills. This will help New Zealanders better gauge whether any reduction of their freedom is justified.
ACT’s Spending Cap will help New Zealanders better understand how much politicians spend and how good that spending is. Politicians will have to signal their spending plans in advance.
These initiatives and others will help get government off the backs and out of the pockets of New Zealanders.
ACT wants the Government to keep moving towards the freedom to achieve and away from the culture of entitlement that saps independence.
We reject Mr Shearer’s hands-on government of hand outs.
We know anything is possible however humble your origins, if you simply give New Zealanders the freedom to achieve.
The future is looking brighter for small business in New Zealand.
Interest rates and inflation are at record lows.
We are just starting to see the first positive signs of productivity growth since 2006.
New Zealand is faring a lot better than many other countries.
Recent surveys by the BNZ and ANZ have found small business owners are feeling more confident about their prospects in the year ahead.
One significant finding from the BNZ survey was that most small firms say they lack the skills to fulfil their potential.
As Mark mentioned, skills are vital to enable our small firms to be more productive.
When our workers and managers are more skilled, we get higher performing businesses.
We increase the quality of our goods and services, and customers are happier.
Our firms are also more innovative, able to meet the demands of new markets, and increase their competitiveness.
If small businesses are the engine room of our economy, skilled workers and managers are the fuel that makes that engine perform.
This morning I want to share with you:
- what we know about small businesses in New Zealand;
- how we can reach them and enable them to improve their skills; and
- specific government initiatives to support skill training and development.
In New Zealand, 97 per cent of our enterprises have fewer than twenty employees – that’s 455,000 businesses.
They employ 31 per cent of all workers in New Zealand and they generate 40 per cent of our GDP.
Small businesses create the greatest number of new jobs each year and are the source of much of our country’s innovation and creativity.
But SMEs are very disparate - they vary greatly by size, capability, and industry.
Some industries have a very high percentage of SMEs such as retail, accommodation and food services. Some industries have businesses able to collectively support each other, while other industries are less organised.
We know that small business owners are under huge time pressure and lack resources.
I had a chance to look through the Ministry of Education’s recent survey of employers as part of the Industry Training Review.
The small firms surveyed faced many barriers to training staff.
These included the short-term impact on productivity when staff are away from the workplace, lack of information, and management systems ill-equipped to cope with hiring and mentoring apprentices.
And it’s not only the employees of small businesses who may struggle to get the training they need.
Research shows that most of our small business owners learn on the job.
Compared with other developed countries, our management skills are “average to middling”, which is really not good enough.
We have good research to show that businesses in New Zealand with better management practices tend to perform better.
It’s particularly the people management, financial, and marketing skills that need to improve if we want our businesses to be internationally competitive.
So, how can we reach our SME owners? How can we make them more aware of the value of training and what is available to them?
This will always be a challenge for any government.
No one programme or service can do it for all our firms.
Of course, Industry Training Organisations have a large reach and offer local training advice and support for over 35,000 businesses.
ITOs can be extremely valuable advisors for a small firm.
The survey of employers found the most important thing they valued from their ITO was the time they took to listen to their needs.
I want to pick up on the point I made earlier on how time pressured our small businesses are.
We can’t expect all firms to have the time for traditional training and development.
So the questions I want to leave with you today are about how we best deliver our training to suit a firm’s situation.
How can we make more use of online interactive technology?
And how can we get alongside small business owners, by supporting them with the management systems required to manage their training needs?
We need to think more about how we work within their realities.
A way in which government is reaching out to a broad range of small businesses is through the www.business.govt.nz website.
This site has everything needed to start, manage and grow a business.
There are links to training options for employees and employers, as well as a suite of free tools and resources.
More applications are being added to the site all the time and I urge everyone to check it out regularly.
Small enterprise can also access local support through the Regional Business Partners network.
This nationwide network of organisations help firms work out their development needs, and offer advice or point them towards suitable training and development programmes.
Business Mentors New Zealand also does a great job matching business owners to advisors who can apply their knowledge and experience to those enterprises.
Lifting skills is a high priority for the Government.
The Business Growth Agenda recognises that building skilled and safe workplaces is one of the key ingredients firms need to grow, become more productive and boost our economy.
The Government recently released a progress report on the 62 separate actions aimed at improving our country’s skill base.
You have the opportunity to provide feedback, and I urge you to do so.
Getting Christchurch up and running again is another top priority for the Government, and rightly so.
Small firms will play a crucial part in the recovery of Christchurch and Canterbury.
A number of new initiatives include:
The $28 million Skills for Canterbury programme which will ensure we have enough skilled tradespeople for the rebuilding of Christchurch, and the Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub; this great initiative is a business-friendly one-stop shop where employers can list vacancies and be matched up with jobseekers from Christchurch and elsewhere.
It will ensure employers can easily get the staff they need so there are no roadblocks to the rebuild.
There is much we can learn from our on-going response to the Canterbury earthquakes, and initiatives like this could be expanded to the whole country.
The Government is also working hard to break the welfare dependency cycle and improve outcomes for our families. This includes supporting people to move off the benefit and into work, and supporting at-risk young people to stay involved in education, training or work.
Another fantastic initiative by the Government has been the introduction of the 90 day employment trial period.
It was originally targeted at small and medium businesses to encourage them to take on new staff. It was so successful it was extended to all firms.
NZIER have estimated the voluntary trial periods have created up to 13,000 new jobs in small and medium businesses.
Finally, the government-funded ITO training is continuing to play a valuable role.
I am very glad to see the achievement rate is increasing.
More trainees are obtaining those long-term transferable skills that will benefit their enterprise and the economy.
We all have to lift our game when it comes to skills – government, employees and employers.
We all have a common interest in encouraging and supporting our small business owners to improve their skills and those of their employees.
I would like to thank the Industry Training Federation and Chief Executive Mark Oldershaw for inviting me here today.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing some of your thoughts and ideas on how we can lift our skills in New Zealand businesses.
Today National unveiled its ‘Starting Out Wage’ policy – a watered down re-establishment of the youth minimum wage.
For their first six months in a new job, youth aged 16 and 17 will have a minimum wage of $10.80 – which is 80 per cent of the $13.50 adult wage. After six months on the job they return to the adult rate but the six months begins afresh with each new employer.
While the policy is not as bold as ACT would have liked, this announcement is step in the right direction and represents another win for ACT as National adopts another of our core policies.
When Labour abolished the youth minimum wage in 2008, youth unemployment soared. A study by the former Department of Labour found that abolishing the youth wage resulted in a loss of up to 9000 jobs. Removing the youth minimum wage priced young people out of the market.
The reason for this is obvious - hiring a young person is more of a risk.
Most youth have little or no experience and do not have the life skills or maturity of older workers. Employers cannot look to their work history to ascertain whether they are reliable and suitable for the job, or how productive they will be. If employers must choose between a young person or an older person at the same rate of pay, employers will usually choose the older, more experience worker.
Different wages for adults and young people gives employers an incentive to employ a young person with no experience. It gives young people the chance to get their foot on the job ladder where they can gain valuable skills and experience, eventually moving into better, higher paid jobs.
Some people will say that youth workers are just stealing jobs off older people and that we are left no better off. However a young person who gets a job produces goods and services on the one hand and spends their money on the other. By working they produce more for people to buy, leading to more production and the creation of new jobs.
Making it easier to work actually increases employment.
On the other hand keeping people at home on the dole produces nothing new for anybody to buy, and actually penalises those who are working by making them pay taxes for welfare payments.
ACT has campaigned for the re-establishment of a youth minimum wage since Labour and the Greens abolished it.
In 2010, we introduced the Minimum Wage (Mitigating Youth Unemployment) Amendment Bill which would have reintroduced the capacity to establish differential minimum wages for those aged 16-17.
Not one party in Parliament, aside from ACT, voted for this bill.
Those parties instead voted to keep our youth at home on the couch, doing nothing, learning nothing and earning nothing - rather than in a job paying $10 an hour.
Labour and the Greens went so far as to argue that demand and supply is not affected by price. They argued – and still do - that minimum wages have no impact on employment and therefore it could not be the reason for our high rate of youth unemployment.
Yet, here we are, in 2012, and both these parties are campaigning to raise the price of cigarettes and alcohol as they say a higher price will lower demand. That’s rich - but we digress.
Two years, and many unemployed young people, later, National’s announcement – a back-down on their previous position – is a welcome step to getting our young people into employment and moving forward in their careers.
We just wish it hadn’t taken National so long.
ACT New Zealand’s Labour spokesman Chris Simmons today said he isn’t surprised that Labour Leader Phil Goff was light on policy detail during his recent photo opportunity.
Mr Simmons was responding to the article in today’s ‘Dominion Post’ on Mr Goff’s visit to engineering firm A. E. Tilley yesterday.
“In light of Labour’s policies on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour – and even higher for some industries – Phil Goff visiting small businesses is akin to Daniel entering the Lion’s Den,” Mr Simmons said.
“The factory owner, 78-year old Don Tilley, stated he didn’t know what Labour’s policies were. I suspect if Phil Goff had informed him, he would have been aghast.
“Mr Tilley specifically stated that he doesn’t like laying staff off. He still pays double-time when his guys work overtime, and his workers are supporting him currently by taking unpaid leave during the current hard times. For 89 years the Tilley family has run this business – it is hard to think he needs the government telling him how to do anything. Yet, here is Labour promoting Labour policies that would leave him no other choice – and would likely mean that we will not see 100 years of A.E. Tilley.
“The business environment is hostile enough already. Statistics show that more small businesses closed in 2010 than in any other year over the last decade. When one considers that small businesses employ most of our workforce, and drive our economy, this is very bad news indeed.
“Last year, almost 98 percent of new businesses started with between zero and five employees. Such businesses are the most vulnerable to failure. Under National that has proven particularly so – and Labour’s plans will drive many more entrepreneurs out of business.
“The only Party that recognises the potential of business entrepreneurs is ACT. ACT knows that business entrepreneurs drive our economy. For everyone’s sake we need an economic environment in which they can survive, then thrive.
“With 18 years of running my own management consulting business, working with entrepreneurs around the world, and networking with leaders in the field of entrepreneurship, I know how important it is to have a regulatory environment that supports business owners.
“ACT is the only Party with a vision to create an entrepreneurial economy that supports and attracts entrepreneurs to build businesses from a New Zealand base,” Mr Simmons said.
ACT New Zealand’s Labour spokesman Chris Simmons today slammed the Labour Party’s new ‘Work and Wages’ policy, labelling it an unprecedented attack on New Zealand’s small business sector.
“Labour’s plans for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a return to the archaic award system, and the abolishment of the 90-day trial period will do nothing but increase costs for employers and put more workers out of jobs,” Mr Simmons said.
“We can already see so many empty shops in our towns and cities around New Zealand. At a time small businesses are hurting, Labour wants to well and truly put small business owners out of their misery.
“Unemployment will go up not because businesses have one or two spare staff to lay-off. It will go up because businesses will fail outright. Most small businesses have lean profit margins; squeeze them too hard, as Labour plans to do, and they will have to shut up shop.
“The costs grow larger still: in many medium-sized businesses the minimum-wage worker is being supervised by a staff member who is most likely currently earning around $15 an hour. When the minimum wage goes up, the shift co-ordinator’s wage must also go up.”
Mr Simmons also dismissed Labour’s proposal to Mondayise public holidays as yet another costly bribe.
“We have never recovered from the productivity hit of giving every person four weeks leave. To Mondayise public holidays will further reduce the country’s overall productivity and directly hit the bottom-line of every small business in the country.”
Self-employed for 18 years, Mr Simmons strongly suspects that Labour’s policy was devised by “people who have never employed a person in their careers; have never been responsible for covering a payroll; have never had their family home on the line.”
“Small business owners are already looking at the return they get for being an entrepreneur and asking themselves ‘why bother?’ It is easier just to let someone else take the risk and move their families and their skills to Australia and start again.
“This sort of craziness is exactly why government should never try dictating how people run their business. ACT policies will let New Zealanders get on with their lives and cut the bureaucracy that holds back employers and employees alike,” Mr Simmons said.
Labour’s Work and Wages Policy announced today will cost us jobs and will hurt the very people Labour claim they are trying to help – those on low incomes, ACT Leader Don Brash said today.
“Labour just doesn’t seem to get it - the more something costs, the less people buy. Employers are no different to their customers in this regard. Higher minimum wages will cost us jobs – particularly among those with low skills,” Dr Brash said.
“It is a disgrace that Labour pretend to champion the rights of workers, but at every chance push policies that harm those on low-wages rather than help them.
“Creating more restrictions to employment laws and raising the minimum wage will see employers hire fewer staff. It is the people on the margins - the lowest paid and unskilled - that will be the first to suffer.
"We only have to look at what has happened with the abolition of the youth minimum wage to see this effect. This legislation was passed with the best of intentions but has had pernicious effects.
“The Department of Labour found that up to 9000 young people are now out of work as a direct result of the abolition of the youth minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour without an increase in productivity will be equally disastrous.
“Labour cannot disregard the laws of economics. We need to focus on policies that create growth, delivering liveable wages to all New Zealanders.
“Like Labour, ACT wants to see wages in New Zealand rise. But, unlike Labour, ACT knows the best way to achieve that is to reduce taxes and regulations so business can grow, invest and create more jobs. Labour’s Work and Wages policy will see more people at home on the dole than ever before,” Dr Brash said.