EMA Advocacy in Action
The nationwide lockdown forced an abrupt switch of focus in our Advocacy programme but there are still some business-as-usual 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 Alert Level 4. Our view with Government the various ministries is that if you can work under Alert 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), which oversees the Wage Subsidy scheme, on questions that come from members about it.
We’ve asked for much wider availability of saliva testing to reduce queues at testing stations and with its fast turnaround for results - hours not days – and get people back to work, and also raised concerns about the compulsory scanning for businesses. We understand the reasoning, but it raises significant health and safety concerns for staff.
In addition, 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, as well as 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 alert 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 northern borders.
Many businesses 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 Alert 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 business-as-usual 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 vehemently opposed by the EMA and the BusinessNZ Network.