Commentary

Advocacy Update

August, 2021

By: EMA

The nationwide lockdown forced an abrupt switch of focus in our Advocacy programme but there are still some business-as-usual (BAU) issues that remain a key focus for the EMA’s advocacy team.

It’s good to see the government quickly switching various assistance programmes such as the Wage Subsidy and Resurgence Payment schemes back on. But it was a little disappointing to see some of the questions raised in previous lockdowns have still not been answered.

We continue to try and get clarity on what is an essential business that is able to open under level 4 as the current list is Based on legislation that may date back to the 1980’s. Business has moved on a bit since then.

Our view with Government the various ministries is that if you can work under level 4 guidelines you should be able to open.

We’ve also queried the start date for Wage Subsidy eligibility on August 17 – a full business day apart from one minute at 11.59pm – instead of the 18th, the first day of full lockdown. We’re working closely with Ministry of Social Development (MSD) on questions that come from members on the subsidy and they are proving very helpful. MSD oversees the scheme.

We’ve asked for much wider availability of saliva testing to reduce queues at testing stations and with its fast turnaround for results -0 hours not days – get people back to work and we have raised concerns about the compulsory scanning for businesses as events as that will be asking staff at hospitality at other outlets to police scanning by customers. We understand the reasoning but it raises significant security concerns for staff.

The legislation that allowed for delayed or broadcast Annual Meetings has lapsed and not been renewed and with reporting season on the way we’re asking for that to be reinstated and we’re trying to get the government to let up to 90 auditors through the border. There’s an auditor shortage meaning reports are being delayed and companies face significant fines for failing to report.

Finally we have real concerns around the border management if Auckland remains at a higher level lockdown than the rest of the country. Auckland borders were a shambles when this occurred last year with critical freight and passenger traffic spending hours at Auckland’s southern and norther borders.

Many business around New Zealand rely on Auckland as a critical part of the supply chain and for provision of parts and raw materials. If Auckland stays at level 4 and the rest of the country is at a lower level many essential businesses around New Zealand will be stuck for supplies that remain locked up in Auckland.

On the BAU front the EMA appears before the select committee hearing submissions on the Natural and Built Environments exposure draft act – one of the replacements for the RMA – this week and we expect to see a draft of the wrongly named Fair Pay Agreements in the near future.

These are a return to the National Awards of the 70s and 80s and vehemently opposed by the EMA and the BusinessNZ network.

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