31 Aug 2012
New Zealand’s business community wants the major parties to stop pushing their ideological hobbyhorses and focus more on the economy, a new survey reveals.
MYOB general manager Julian Smith says business are frustrated with the current political agenda and want to see more focus on simplifying businesses regulations and policies to promote training and job creation.
“The message from business owners is very clear: they want cutting red tape and creating jobs right at the top of the political agenda. They simply aren’t convinced by many of the high profile policies currently being pushed by both Labour and National,” says Julian Smith.
National’s programme of state asset sales continues to be unpopular with small business owners, with 54% of businesses saying they oppose it and just 21% in favour. Labour’s proposal to expand paid parental leave to 26 weeks likewise failed to find approval, with 48% opposed and just 23% in support.
By contrast, policies designed to cut red tape or make it easier for businesses to create jobs drew widespread approval. 75% of business owners said they would vote for increased government funding for apprenticeships and training, with just 3% saying they would vote against. 79% of voters said they would support changes to make it easier to manage provisional tax obligations, and just 3% said they would vote against.
“Amidst a sluggish economic recovery, our business owners are working hard to find a way back to growth – to find ways to create jobs and get their businesses moving again – and they want to see policies that will help them do that,” says Julian Smith. “They want to see Government taking an active role in helping businesses to hire well trained staff members.”
Other popular policies to support job creation were simplification of PAYE regulations, supported by 68% of businesses, with just 3% opposed, and the introduction of a “starting out” wage for young people, supported by 56% of businesses with 13% opposed. Businesses were also very supportive of changes to simplify the Holidays Act to make it easier for them determine and manage their employee’s leave.
“In a knowledge economy, businesses are also saying we need more focus on research and development, and training and education – in everything from technical skills to IT and the internet,” says Julian Smith.
Over half (55%) of businesses said they would vote for the reintroduction of research and development tax credits, with just 10% opposing it.
Julian Smith says these policies were popular because businesses could see clear economic benefits, which was not true of policies like asset sales or increasing paid parental leave.
“Opposition to asset sales has been consistent and shows no sign of changing as the sales approach. Businesses simply do not buy the Government’s rationale for the sale.”
“Similarly, Labour’s proposed extension of paid parental leave will win them few votes from business owners. While they would be totally supportive of parents’ right to spend more time with their children, there are concerns this would be a big cost at a time when many businesses are struggling to maintain profitability,” said Julian Smith.
Other proposals that did not attract major support were further combinations of government departments to create “Super Ministries”, which was supported by just 34% with 31% opposed, and changes to allow retailers to open for trade on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day morning should they wish to do so which drew just 38% support with 36% opposed.
“SMEs employ nearly a third of the total New Zealand workforce, and make up 97% of all New Zealand businesses,” said Julian Smith. “We think its time the politicians put the ideology aside and start listening to this vital constituency.”
“By focusing more on the legislative environment needed to help business owners create jobs and invest in business development, while making it easier for them to manage compliance, we can get our economy growing strongly again with benefits for the entire community.”
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Established in 1991, MYOB is one of New Zealand’s largest business management software providers. Its 50+ products and services have been employed by more than one million businesses in New Zealand and Australia. MYOB serves businesses of all ages, types and sizes, delivering solutions that simplify accounting, payroll, client management, websites and much more. With a network of more than 20,000 accountants and other professional partners, it provides the support and tools that help make business life easier. Today, MYOB is extending its solutions online and delivering innovation through cloud computing, enabling clients to make smarter connections with their business partners and customers. For further information visit: myob.co.nz/smarterconnections.