Business, Covid, and the 2020 election

17 Sep 2020

Most businesspeople approve of the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, but many are uncomfortable with New Zealand’s resultant debt. And business wants a plan for raising economic performance to deal with Covid fallout.

The key findings of the Deloitte and Chapman Tripp Election Survey hosted by BusinessNZ* were presented at the virtual Deloitte and Chapman Tripp Election Conference hosted by BusinessNZ in Auckland today.

This year’s survey shows a clear view by business that the Government has done well in its initial response to the COVID-19 situation. There are mixed feelings about whether the Government has spent the right amount on business support, but there is strong support for the wage subsidy and leave schemes.

Looking ahead to the period of Covid- and post-Covid recovery, businesses want to see the Government focused on economic well-being, with a coordinated plan for recovery that includes building infrastructure.

For the general business environment, businesses want to see the regulatory burden on business reduced, the RMA overhauled, and 90-day job trials allowed for all businesses. A large majority don’t want tax increases.

Deloitte Chief Executive Thomas Pippos says, ”The survey defines the areas of interest to New Zealand business. This year’s results show a clear focus for future governments, even with the high levels of uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

“There is an understanding that as a country, we are dealing with an unanticipated and disruptive situation. Overall, survey results suggest there is general support for the actions taken by the Government to date in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic which is the key positive the Government can take from the survey findings.”

Chapman Tripp Chief Executive Partner Nick Wells says, “With little sign of the pandemic easing in the short term, and an uncertain prospect of a vaccine, our collective focus needs to be on enabling economic resilience for the long haul, while protecting our borders and remaining vigilant. COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of the old normality, but change delivers both disruption and opportunity. What the results of this survey show, is that amongst the business community there is appetite to embrace these challenging times as an opportunity, and usher in policy and legislative change to facilitate economic recovery.”

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says the Election Survey results reveal where businesses are most impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight the importance of Government policies for recovery.

“It is critical that the voice of business is heard in post-Covid planning and management,” Mr Hope said.

Key findings in the 2020 Deloitte and Chapman Tripp Election Survey hosted by BusinessNZ:

For the recent COVID-19 period –

  • Covid response – 71% think the Government has done a good or excellent job of handling the Covid-19 outbreak
  • Covid business support – 43% say the Government is spending the right amount; 26% say it’s spending too much; 17% say it’s spending too little
  • Most effective Covid initiatives – wage subsidy and leave schemes 78%; small business cashflow scheme 55%; fast-tracking RMA for shovel-ready projects 41%
  • Covid debt – 60% are uncomfortable and 33% are comfortable with NZ’s debt reaching 53% of GDP by 2023

Over the short- to medium-term and during Covid recovery -

  • Tax – 91% don’t want higher personal tax; 88% don’t want higher corporate tax
  • Economic well-being – 86% say economic well-being should take priority over cultural, environmental or social well-being during Covid recovery
  • Building infrastructure – 80% think this is a useful mechanism to help the economy recover from economic shock; 70% says central and local government should borrow to directly fund infrastructure development
  • RMA – 80% say recent fast-track changes to the Resource Management Act show the Act needs a full overhaul
  • Regulatory burden – 79% say more should be done to reduce regulations on business as part of ongoing Covid recovery; 65% say Government processes for developing regulatory change aren’t satisfactory
  • 90-day trials – 73% say reintroducing 90-day job trials would benefit their business
  • Post-Covid planning – 65% say the Government doesn’t have a coordinated plan for raising NZ’s economic performance

The complete results of the 2020 Deloitte and Chapman Tripp Election Survey hosted by BusinessNZ can be found on www.businessnz.org.nz and www.electionsurvey.co.nz

*The Deloitte and Chapman Tripp Election Survey hosted by BusinessNZ in June 2020 surveyed 1,193 businesses of all sizes in all sectors and regions of New Zealand