Small businesses are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy. If New Zealand is to have a thriving and productive economy, we need to make it a better place for small business to operate in. ACT is committed to doing that.
Starting a business is brave and involves taking huge risks. We understand the pressures that business owners are under and want to create sensible, practical policies which support them.
ACT has announced a package of policies for Small Business, led by a commitment to deal with prohibitively expensive, frustrating, and ineffective AML compliance.
- Make Anti Money Laundering (AML) compliance user friendly for small business.
- Introduce a Minister and Ministry of Regulation to police red tape and regulation making from within Government.
- Immediately abolish Fair Pay Agreements and supporting freedom to contract.
- Get rid of the complicated and burdensome system for temporary work visas and replace it with simple demand-based pricing, while tackling the sources of Immigration NZ’s slow processing times.
- Place a moratorium on minimum wage increases for three years.
- Remove the January 2 public holiday to help small business absorb the cost of Matariki.
- Reinstate 90-day trials for all businesses, not just those with fewer than 20 employees.
- Reduce the costs of unfounded personal grievances to employers.
- Introduce an hours-based accrual system for annual leave, which will make it significantly easier to calculate entitlements and removes the need for complicated pay-as-you-go provisions.
- Make it easier to build new business premises, supermarkets, logistics infrastructure and farm improvements.
- Welcome foreign investment by exempting investors from countries within the OECD from the need to receive Overseas Investment Office approval.
- Reform the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act, paring it back to first principles.
- Lower the cost of imported goods by abolishing tariffs.
Anti money laundering (AML) regulations have been described as the world’s least effective policy experiment, with compliance costs possibly to the order of 100 times higher than the amount of laundered money seized. The laws were created with casinos and banks in minds but has since been widened to include smaller businesses who don’t have dedicated compliance teams and are put in a difficult position to comply within strict deadlines and face major fines for delays. ACT would implement a more risk-based approach, tailored to the size, nature, and risk level of various entities.
Specifically, with regard to AML, ACT would:
- Reduce compliance costs associated with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act
- Provide clear guidelines on how to comply with the legislation instead of a wait-to-prosecute approach
- Simplify customer due diligence processes for low-risk customers or transactions, including relaxed rules for low-risk trusts
- Allow reporting entities to certify the identity, source of wealth, and source of funds for clients with whom they have an established relationship
- Allow scanned copies to be accepted
- Extend timeframes for small businesses to submit reports to Police
Cutting through AML red tape is one example of ACT’s approach. Too many rules are created by bureaucrats in Wellington who don’t have a proper understanding of what impact they have. To them it’s just words on a form, to the business owner having to comply it is time and money spent on something that might not be doing anyone any good. ACT’s Minister and Ministry for Regulations would get rid of unnecessary regulations and prevent more from being added.
Since Labour came to power it has added expense after added expense for small business owners. Increases in minimum wage, so called “fair pay” agreements, another public holiday, the end of 90 day trials - how are businesses meant to grow when the Government is inflicting more costs on them at every opportunity?
Labour thinks they’re helping employees with these but they’ve made it harder for them to be hired in the first place. We’ve all seen the emptied shopfronts and ‘lease’ signs that have become so prevalent over Labour’s term.
Take 90-day trials for example, they gave employers the opportunity to take a chance on workers they wouldn’t otherwise. Young or low-skilled workers, or people who have been out work, have the most to gain from being employed on a trial basis. ACT will bring them back for all businesses.
Fair pay’ agreements amount to compulsory unionism that will reduce productivity and make it harder for employers to grow their businesses. ACT will get rid of them immediately.
It is the same with the minimum wage, a policy that seems kind but is the opposite in reality. In 2022 MBIE advised the Government to go slower in raising the minimum wage and estimated that thousands fewer jobs would be created because of the rapid increase in the level of the minimum wage.
ACT will reverse these anti-business policies. We’ll create an environment for investment by making it easier to access credit and easier to build and develop.
ACT will welcome foreign direct investment from friendly OECD nations, we’ll make it easier to access credit under the CCCFA, and we’ll make sure investment goes further by making it easier to develop new business premises and logistics infrastructure. This is what is required to support greater levels of productivity, jobs, and higher incomes.
ACT has employers’ backs. We will fight on their behalf for more sensible, sustainable economic policies so they can grow their businesses and employ more New Zealanders.