One of the things that I know from being in Parliament is that there aren’t enough people in Government who know what it’s like to start and run a small business successfully.
The Government is talking about some significant changes in employment law. Changes like the end of the starting out wage, the removal of 90 day trials for businesses with more than 20 staff, consecutive and considerable leaps in the minimum wage, reduced flexibility, and standardised wage bargaining like New Zealand used to have back in the 70s.
These are the sort of changes that I would call working against small and medium sized businesses. They’re the sort of things that make it harder for businesses to operate by driving up their costs and increasing their risks. And they’re the sort of changes that ultimately mean fewer jobs for Kiwi workers.
Already we are seeing businesses across the country lose confidence and reduce their employment intentions. Fear of these reforms are one of the big reasons for that decline in sentiment.
New Zealand has an enviable track record over the last few years for lifting employment and growing wages.
Over the last two years 245,000 jobs were created. Wages have been growing at twice the rate of inflation and we now have the third highest employment rate in the OECD.
All the evidence is that our current settings are some of the best and most successful in the world. The Government needs to explain why bringing in reforms that have strangled growth in other economies is a good idea.