Christopher Luxon has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of New Zealand. The National-ACT-NZ First coalition has already overwhelmed the media, announcing cuts that include scrapping fair pay agreements and allowing 90-day staff trials, policies business leaders want to see implemented quickly.
Many businesses have welcomed the next coalition’s focus on increasing productivity, skills development, and innovation. Others have expressed concerns and been left to take a wait-and-see approach. Indeed, time will tell how far-reaching the impacts of the right-wing Government will be.
BusinessNZ is New Zealand’s largest advocacy group for enterprise and champions policies leading to sustainable growth through free enterprise. Its chief executive Kirk Hope said BusinessNZ had advocated for many of the policies put forward by the new coalition, such as cutting red tape and unnecessary costs for businesses.
BusinessNZ said David Seymour being named the newly created minister for regulation was a win because of his strong campaigning for decreased needless business regulation. Nicola Willis’ role as finance minister also boded well for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s focus on price stability.
Erica Stanford’s education and immigration ministerial roles, Brooke van Velden’s minister for workplace relations and safety role, and Winston Peters’ role as minister of foreign affairs were also praised by BusinessNZ. Kirk Hope said the ministerial appointments of this incoming government would allow for a balanced introduction of the three parties and their policy focuses.
Members of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) put forward a clear message – wanting the Government to back them to succeed.
Higher productivity, a need for investment in technology, skills, services and manufacturing capability, higher export returns, a need for investment in distribution, market coverage and product development, the list of focuses goes on.
But returning to 90-day staff trials and an openness to foreign investment are the major focuses the EMA are excited to see.
Other businesses have expressed concerns about the impact of the coalition’s policies on their costs and competitiveness. Businesses are generally supportive of the coalition’s focus on improving productivity and innovation. Still, they want to ensure that these policies are implemented in a way that does not burden businesses with additional costs.
The new government is expected to make significant cuts to public spending in a bid to get the economy back on track. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has warned that there are “no easy options” when it comes to making cuts but said that the government is committed to fiscal responsibility.
Where Kirk Hope said some fair pay agreements should be ditched, Richard Wagstaff, Council of Trade Unions president, said it would be a “backward step” to remove the work standards included in the fair pay agreements.
“They’re probably not going to help workers in any meaningful way,” Hope said.
“Why would you put that sort of rigidity in the labour market when New Zealand needs to be nimble and competitive – more so than ever before,” he continued.
“New Zealand is an easy place to do business, but it’s so easy that we have workers being really undermined and not paid properly,” Richard Wagstaff said.
“The programme provided today shows that the incoming Government is out of touch with the priorities of New Zealanders and the challenges that they face.”
“It is telling that one of the first areas of work they have highlighted for action is the repeal of Fair Pay Agreements and the reintroduction of 90-day trials. Both measures are designed to reduce security for workers and to make it easier to fire employees.
“At a time of economic hardship for many in a cost-of-living crisis, this is simply appalling and insensitive.
“We are alarmed to hear that they wish to revise already weak health and safety regulations, especially in light of the high fatalities and serious injuries experienced in the workplace today. Removing the ability to challenge your employment status as a contractor will also mean that more workers face discrimination and exploitation.”
The New Zealand business community approaches the coalition’s policies with a mix of optimism and caution. While they recognise the myriad potential benefits, they also acknowledge the challenges that may arise.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has said that leading a coalition government is an “awesome responsibility”. Luxon said that he is committed to working with his coalition partners to achieve the best outcomes for New Zealanders. Businesses are sure to see these outcomes in the coming months.
Collaboration and open communication between businesses and the government will be crucial in navigating the implementation phase and ensuring that the policies foster a thriving and sustainable business environment.
New Prime Minister: Christopher Luxon, leading a National-ACT-NZ First coalition.
Policies Announced: Cuts including scrapping fair pay agreements and implementing 90-day staff trials.
Policy Response: BusinessNZ and EMA show support, expressing a desire for government to succeed.