Clear, concise ideas.
Tangible solutions, the Government could pick up and run with right now, to get New Zealand open and back in business.
It’s what National has been working on to get us out of COVID-19/Delta variant grievance mode, while the Government dithers.
On September 29 we released Opening Up — our plan to end lockdowns, get COVID under control, and re-open NZ.
On October 20, we issued Back in Business — an actual roadmap to saving livelihoods and our economy.
Why? Because we needed to.
Despite the resources and power at their disposal, as well as 18 months to sort it out, the Government was no closer to any kind of cohesive strategy.
Instead they squandered the time by pursuing massive centralisation moves in health, education, workplace relations and water, spending huge sums in all directions, spiralling NZ’s debt level into the stratosphere.
That is, until today, October 22.
As expected, the Government’s alert level numbers will be swapped for traffic lights and vaccination certificates.
But this system will not kick in until the Government’s target of 90% full vaccination rates for every district health board in NZ, so it’s difficult to see a path to freedom by Christmas.
And while it is good to see further business support, it has taken far too long.
Meanwhile Auckland and Waikato remain in level 3 lockdown (albeit with takeaways), while rest of NZ has been penalised for Delta escaping managed isolation, by living at Level 2.
Many Kiwis have become the working poor in what is our new ‘normal’ thanks to inflation rocketing to 4.9% — its highest level in a decade.
People are losing jobs, businesses, homes and our children have missed weeks of school.
DOING OUR JOB
As NZ’s main Opposition party, we’ve been doing our job questioning the Government on its management of COVID.
Watching the daily doses from the podium, is like being in a picture theatre, viewing a totally different movie to them.
We live in the real world with real problems.
The plans National has developed are about certainty in the here and now and pave a clear path to our post-COVID future.
As MP of the region that is home to NZ tourism jewel, the Waitomo Caves, I hope our Back to Business plan offers some comfort. I’ve seen the devastation COVID has had on the Waitomo village community, surrounding supplier businesses and towns.
Our Opening Up plan has simple steps, starting with supercharging our vaccine rollout. An idea the Government seemed to translate into Super Saturday on October 16.
It also includes ordering vaccine boosters; upgrading contact tracing — a system the Government seems to be abandoning against expert advice; rolling out rapid testing, creating a dedicated agency to manage NZ’s COVID response, purpose-built quarantine facilities, launch a digital app for vaccination authentication, ringfence a fund specifically for COVID-19 treatments and prepare hospitals by fast tracking new hospital wards to increase capacity.
We believe in pursuing a full vaccination target of 70-75% to ensure lockdowns can cease, then an 85-90% vaccination point and suppression strategy, so we can slowly open up to the world.
RAFT OF MEASURES
In our Back in Business plan, we outline a raft of measures, but a key component is tax relief.
We give business owners choice, without recrimination, to require staff to be vaccinated, require customers to show proof of vaccination before they can enter, operate without capacity constraints and help small business owners who have had a 40% reduction in revenue with rental costs.
We’d extend wage subsidies to cover Alert Level 2, offer targeted support for tourism, hospitality and accommodation and establish an insurance scheme for major events.
Other include a two-year moratorium on any regulations and legislation which would add to business costs, a $150,000 write-off on the costs of new plant, equipment and related software, as well as reinstate the asset write-off schedule at $5000.
In the past 18 months many businesses have gone to the wall and will continue to do so.
We now have more than 350,000 Kiwis dependent on a benefit — one in every nine of our working age population.
National launched Back in Business because we want to ensure small businesses which have managed to hang on for the last 18 months, survive the next 12, as we reconnect to the world.
Business owners don’t want pity and handouts, they need certainty and clarity.
In short, they want a plan.
We’ve now given the Government two of them.
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