Magazine article New Zealand Management

Brash and Business

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Brash and Business

Article excerpt

Would a Don Brash government soothe business fevered brow? Answer: we can't say for sure, yet. Surely that's preposterous. Brash is nearer mainstream ACT than mainstream National. He has personal authority. He says business-friendly things. Surely, all will be well.

First, note National will not govern alone when next it wins office. It is also unlikely to be governing alone with ACT. Any other partner will pull National towards the centre, though United Future is more business-friendly than New Zealand First.

But National has variations within its own ranks which complicate a clear Brash run.

All this became evident in March when National dumped its bold tax-cutting policy of 2002. In place of a 32 percent top personal rate and 27 percent corporate rate at the end of the first term of government and a 10-year aim of 25 percent for each, Brash now emphasises cuts for low-middle income-earners, very modest personal cuts otherwise and 30 percent for business --with only vague indications of more in future.

For business the company tax cut promise is welcome, if timid. To be competitive at the end of the world, New Zealand must be more attractive to investors than richer, centrally positioned nations--even than Australia.

To tax you might add government charges, for example, on freight and passenger' clearances imposed because of terrorism. National has implied it will continue those charges.

Next: workplace relations. Expect National to promise wholesale repeal of the Workplace Relations Law Reform Bill, especially the provisions for forced bargaining, multi-employer agreements, non-pass-on of union-negotiated rates and protection of vulnerable workers. By and large, however, the parent act of 2000 will stay.

Brash has dammed the Holidays Act and declared unequivocally National will repeal the fourth week's holiday and time-and-a-half on public holidays. But other provisions await a detailed examination of the act.

Workplace spokesman Roger Sowry says Labour's Health and Safety in Employment law will remain though stress will go and OSH will have to operate more respectfully and carefully.

National is leaning towards reintroducing competition on ACC levies but in a less draconian fashion than in 1999. Detail is yet to come.

Workplace relations and tax were two of five competitiveness issues that Business New Zealand chief executive Simon Carlaw told a National party conference in May were key business concerns. …

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