I hope this newsletter finds you well.
Our tourism sector has been hit hard by covid-19. Operators in the industry need to be confident they can keep people in jobs and keep their doors open. Once our borders reopen we need to be ready to invite visitors back.
National is proposing a $100 million package of direct grants for tourism operators. Allocated over four years, the Tourism Accelerator fund will be open to tourism operators, businesses, iwi or groups of investors with ideas to stimulate demand in tourism. The cash will fund 70 per cent of new projects that will drive new demand for tourism. An independent board, appointed by the Tourism Minister, will oversee which projects are approved.
The release of the Budget showed a large $400 million in funding for the tourism industry, however, the Government has shown a poor effort in aiding this covid-19-stricken industry, having spent very little so far. National is listening to the industry community and is offering a helping hand down the road to recovery.
Last week saw the first indication that rather than creating the economic framework where all businesses have an opportunity to thrive, the Government will decide which industries will survive after Covid-19.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced $320 million from a Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund to subsidise compulsory student service fees and compulsory course costs in construction, manufacturing and primary industries. However, hospitality, tourism and retail didn’t make the cut.
It’s baffling these industry’s that are suffering the most economic harm are the least supported. As we are looking to rebuild our economy the Government needs to explain the selection criteria for its decision to advantage training in some industries and not others. Especially considering our hospitality and tourism sectors have particularly felt the brunt of the pandemic. A strong economy that generates higher incomes for workers in these sectors is a better long term sustainable solution than Government subsidies.
The Government has spent less than half of the money allocated to the new frontline mental health service, over the past year. $455 million was allocated to mental health services in the 2019 Budget, with $48 million allocated in the first year. But the Health Minister has admitted to date only $20 million has been spent. It’s easy to make large funding announcements but pointless if they’re not delivered on.
The 18 new sites delivered by the Government in its first year is less than two per cent of New Zealand’s GP practices. This is not the level of service the Health Minister promised to New Zealanders last year. Given the likelihood we will see huge demand for mental health services as a result of Covid-19 and the coming economic downturn, the Government must do better. A National Government will focus on delivering frontline services sooner so New Zealanders can access high quality services no matter where they live.
All New Zealanders have had to make sacrifices over the past few months as Covid-19 tipped our world upside down. To abide by the lockdown rules, our small businesses, in particular, have shouldered a significant amount of economic pain. Now it’s time for New Zealand to start moving forward. We need to get on with the job of rebuilding our economy.
We understand the task the next Government will have to undertake is immense and we don’t take this lightly. But we have the team and the experience to get the job done. We have already started rolling out our plan to create jobs and grow the economy.
Last week we announced our JobStart package which will provide a $10,000 cash payment to businesses that hire additional staff. It would begin on 1 November 2020 and run for the remaining five months of the financial year through to 31 March 2021, incentivising up to 50,000 new jobs. Small business owners who create jobs will be the heroes of this economic crisis, in the way that our nurses, doctors and all five million of us who stayed home were the heroes of the health crisis. JobStart aims to give small business owners greater confidence to hire new people.
Thousands of small businesses across the country were starved of revenue during the lockdown and many are still struggling under Level 2 restrictions. A payment of $10,000 could make an enormous difference to the hundreds of thousands of small businesses New Zealand is home to.
National is committed to saving jobs and growing our economy. We will achieve this by leveraging our country’s great strengths which are our people, our communities, our natural resources, and our values of hard work, tenacity, innovation and aspiration.
Our focus is on the economy, but it’s the economy that you live in, your community, your job, your main street, your marae, your tourism business. This is the economy our National team is grounded in, and the one that matters most to New Zealand.
National has always been the Party of small business. It’s where we come from. And it is small businesses, with our help, who will rebuild New Zealand after Covid-19.
Tania Tapsell was selected over the weekend as our fabulous new candidate for the East Coast Electorate. I am sure she will be a very successful MP for National.
Don't forget to regularly check www.covid19.govt.nz for the most up to date information.