Over the last week I have had conversations with many business owners in the Bay of Plenty. They’ve shared their challenges and experiences, which has been helpful feedback for me now that I’ve taken over the Small Business portfolio as opposition leader.
New Zealand has done a great job at getting our COVID-19 cases down to zero. For the sake of our nation’s health we have all made sacrifices in our families, our careers and our social lives. Sports and hobbies have been on hold. Relationships have become long-distance for many couples. We are now in the process of finding our way back to normality.
But the employers in our community, those business owners who took the financial risk to set up enterprises to provide products and services for us – they have also made massive sacrifices. Only a few businesses were able to carry on trading as normal over Levels 3 and 4. Some did not survive and others are struggling to keep going. They need our help, our custom. But they also need innovative and robust economic policy that enables them to get back up and running, to employ new staff and to explore new product development and new markets.
National’s JobStart policy aims to give businesses the confidence to employ new staff with a cash payment of up to $10,000 per employee, a scheme that will provide incentives for up to 50,000 new staff to be engaged. Many small businesses in the Bay work in the tourism sector and we have received positive feedback on our $100 million Tourism Accelerator Fund that will help tourism operators stay open while New Zealand’s borders remain closed, keeping staff employed. We’ll be announcing more policies over the coming months that show National’s commitment to our region’s employers and their role in rebuilding New Zealand’s economy.