Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) Northern - Policies EMA is advocating for

Policies EMA is advocating for

EMA's policies aim to create a better environment for business.

EMA has four broad policy platforms:

  1. Growth - RMA reform and Infrastructure (transport, water, housing)
  2. Skills and Training
  3. Export Growth
  4. Employment Law / Health and Safety

Listed below are EMA's existing policies.  For more information contact Alan McDonald alan.mcdonald@ema.co.nz

1. Growth – RMA/Infrastructure

1.1  Company/corporate tax reduction to 20 percent Company/corporate tax reduction to 20 percent

To drive the productive sector of the economy, corporate or company tax should be reduced to 20% in order to stimulate investment from both domestic sources and international sources.

1.2  Use of Asset Sales by Auckland Council for the provision of necessary infrastructure for the Auckland region

  • EMA’s policy  is that Auckland Council should use its assets in an efficient and effective way  to provide needed infrastructure for the region.

  • EMA however accepts the need for Auckland Council to retain a degree of strategic control of key assets that are critical to the future of the region. Examples of such assets are the Ports of Auckland and the Auckland International Airport.

  • EMA does not accept that such strategic control must necessarily involve 100% ownership of those assets. EMA sees merit in various types of arrangement that release capital from those assets whilst allowing a degree of control sufficient to meet council’s strategic requirements.

  • In particular EMA favours the landlord model for the sale of the Ports of Auckland business, where the operating business is sold off as a going concern, possibly with a percentage of Auckland Council ownership retained, and Auckland Council retains ownership of the land and buildings, receiving rent as a landlord. In this way, Auckland Council releases capital for regional infrastructure e.g. transport projects, whilst at the same time retaining a degree of control.

  • The Auckland Council Assets that this policy applies to are: Ports of Auckland Ltd (100 per cent owned), Auckland International Airport Ltd (22.4 per cent owned), Auckland Film Studios Ltd (100 per cent owned), The $1.1 Bn of Real Estate held by Council through the CCO Auckland Council Property Ltd 

  • EMA does not accept the argument that Auckland Council should retain some assets such as the Ports of Auckland because of the dividend stream that results therefrom. EMA maintains that the need in the past for substantial capital injections to maintain the ports viability has effectively nullified any benefits received from dividends. EMA does not believe that the Council is the appropriate body to maintain an ownership and governance role over the Ports of Auckland. EMA believes that the Ports performance would have been substantially better over the last decade under a mixed ownership model such as the one we are suggesting.

1.3  Anti-dumping provisions

New Zealand law must provide effective tools for local industry to apply for protection from dumping of products or materials produced outside of New Zealand.

Consideration of the impact on local industry from the dumping action must form part of this protection. Application of protections must also consider whether the local industry has a higher burden through local standards, environmental conditions/requirements in addition to the issue of sale below cost in the country of origin.

1.4  Government Purchasing Policy – Local Industry Support

When government is making purchasing decisions whether under tender, building work specifications or for smaller goods, there must be a consideration on the value to the New Zealand economy of awarding that tender, purchase or material specification to local industry. Such impacts can include addition local workers or local contractors, support of local industry sectors looking to grow and the contribution of taxes arising from local industry activity. Tender documents should reflect the local economy contribution value from the tenderer to be revealed as part of the process.
When building work is undertaken by government departments or agencies, the specifications must be required to look and disclose the expected New Zealand economic value those specifications will have through the use or supply by local industry and decision makers must take that into consideration before accepting the specifications.

1.5  Auckland Council’s proposed funding of the Auckland Plan set of transport projects 2015-2045 as set out in the “Funding Auckland’s Transport Future” document

1.  EMA agrees that the Basic Transport network will not meet Auckland’s transport needs into the future and that the proposed Auckland Plan Transport network, or something similar, is needed if Auckland is to avoid gridlock in the next decade.  EMA agrees that the Basic Transport network will not meet Auckland’s transport needs into the future and that the proposed Auckland Plan Transport network, or something similar, is needed if Auckland is to avoid gridlock in the next decade.

2.  Of the two options proposed in the consultation document EMA favours the Existing Tools-Rates and Fuel tax- option. This seems to us to have the greatest number of positive benefits combined with the least number of negatives. The Motorway user charge on the other hand, has a large number of negatives and for that reason we do not favour it.

3.  We do however add some caveats to our support for the Rates and fuel tax option.
a. The Auckland Plan list of projects needs to be more carefully scrutinised to see whether they are justified, particularly with respect to Benefit: Cost ratios. In particular more attention needs to be given to those projects proposed for decade two and decade three, the detail on which is very light.
b. Asset sales are critical to provide supplementary capital to assist with the cost of the project package. Although asset sales will supply only a modest amount of the capital required to bridge the $12 B funding gap, any additional funds will help soften the financial blow on the Auckland public and so make any proposal more acceptable politically. In addition asset sales show that the public of Auckland is willing to do what it can to fund its own transport needs and so making it more politically acceptable for government to continue to contribute extra funding into the mix. (See separate document: “EMA Policy on Auckland Council Asset Sales”)

4.  Although EMA does not favour the Motorway user charge option, EMA’s view is that the scheme would be made more acceptable to the public if a daily cap of, say, $6 per individual user was introduced. The cap would have to be different for organisations and businesses of course. 

1.6  EMA Policy on Local Government Building and Resourse Consenting, and on RMA reform.

Consenting carried out by Local Government is slow and unduly bureaucratic, sometimes being more concerned with protecting local authorities than facilitating the growth and development of their region. Although many councils claim that they meet the 20 working days performance standard in most cases (often 85% to 95% of applications) and can provide evidence to back their claims, there are still a small but significant number of applications that exceed this limit.

Of more concern is the number of applications that meet the technical 20 working days requirement but because of multiple information requests the total elapsed time is much greater than that.

A significant number of EMA members are frustrated that typical non notified Resource consents take about 4 months on average elapsed time and a typical building consent is 20 to 50 days elapsed time. 

1.7  Supporting the increased use of Public, Private Partnerships in New Zealand to help overcome this country’s infrastructure deficit

The EMA supports greater use of the PPP model to assist in overcoming New Zealand’s growing infrastructure deficit, especially in high growth areas such as Auckland and Tauranga. PPPs will also help to provide critical infrastructure in areas struggling to fund critical infrastructure replacement or development due to stagnant or declining ratepayer bases.

The EMA supports the establishment of a specialist PPP resource - based on the existing Canadian model used across all Government funded projects in Canada - to champion and expedite the use of PPPs providing the expertise, common documentation, financial, planning and legal frameworks and project pipeline to make the use of PPPs a common and non-controversial part of New Zealand’s infrastructure provision.
This resource would become the go-to specialist procurement service for both local and central government procurement of significant infrastructure projects.
 

1.8  Local Government

1.  Rates increases should be kept to the rate of inflation or less .Productivity needs to increase at local Government level. Any increase that is in excess of the rate of inflation needs to be justified.
2.  Business differentials need to be reduced to zero. If, however a differential is imposed, there needs to be a supporting study of costs and benefits to justify it. This should preferably be an independent study.
3.  The UAGC should be set at the maximum allowed (30%).
4.  Valuation should be on a CV or AV basis.
5.  Councils should concentrate on user pays for rubbish, water supplies, waste water, library services, leisure facilities, and other council services where a user and a benefit can be clearly identified. Councils should evaluate all services provided to ratepayers. Those of equal value to all (e.g. democracy) need to be part of the general rate or UAGC. The others should be the subject of user charges.
6.  Councils should not be involved in the provision of Private Goods.
Some Councils are in competition with business e.g. in the provision of fitness centres, parking buildings, housing, land and commercial property, hotels etc. Business assets, property, etc., held by council, should therefore be sold to fund infrastructure. Strategic shareholdings in certain key assets may be permissible, (e.g. Auckland Airport, Ports of Auckland), but only when there is a compelling strategic reason why Council needs to retain control. In such a case Council should hold only the minimum that is necessary for control (e.g. 51%).
7.  A wider Group of Landowners should pay Rates.
Land and buildings owned by Educational Organizations, Central Government and Local
Government and other similar organisations should pay rates.
8.  Councils should not duplicate the role of Central Government.
It is not Council's role to get involved in income redistribution activities such as:
- Any  rating differentials based on ability to pay rather than value of services received.
- Social Housing
- Reduced rates for special interest groups.
These activities are the legitimate role of Central Government, and should be carried out by them.
9.  Targeted Rates
EMA supports targeted rates where they are targeted at a particular area, or group of ratepayers, for services supplied to that area or group of ratepayers only, and for projects which have substantial majority support of the ratepayers involved. In addition there should be an on-going consultation and accountability mechanism such as a stakeholder’s reference group. Some examples are water or sewerage schemes and Mainstreet Rates. Targeted rates should not be used for routine Council expenditure. Routine expenditures should always be funded through the general rate.

1.9 Housing

While affordable housing in Auckland is largely a social issue the EMA is taking a position on the problem as any significant boost to Auckland’s residential building programme will create significant opportunities for our many members in the building trades sector and those involved in the manufacture of products associated with the building and furnishing of new homes. Anecdotally there is some suggestion the affordability issue may be causing some difficulties around the recruiting and retention of staff reluctant to remain or enter into Auckland’s hot housing market.

Our housing policy focusses on two key areas:
 
RMA and planning legislation
We continue our campaign for a total overhaul of the RMA and related planning legislation, the Local Government Act and the Land Transport Management Act to create a stable environment to encourage large-scale development of infrastructure linked to land use planning.
 
PPPs
We advocate for wider acceptance and greater use of PPPs to provide the scale of building solution required to deal with the pressing shortage of affordable housing in Auckland.

 

2. Skills and Training

2.1 Workplace literacy

EMA has a policy to ensure that Government funding is available for workplace literacy and to deliver this to employers as more than 40 % of employees face literacy issues on literacy. Our policy encourages improved productivity, health and safety, customer satisfaction and reduces errors for employers while improving confidence, career opportunities and giving greater responsibility to employees.

 

2.2  Education

The EMA supports the development of a work readiness passport or certificate. EMA works with a number of groups involved in a pilot programme as a number surveys, member’s feedback, briefings and forums have highlighted students are not work ready.
We support raising NCEA level standards and Vocational Pathways at schools while encouraging employers to provide training and places for apprentices. EMA has a policy of encouraging more students into science subjects to further the development of transferrable skills.
EMA works closely with Careers NZ and supports gateway, cadetships, trade academies and other educational institutions. A partnership with Auckland University makes qualified experts available to the business sector.

 

3. Export Growth

3.1  Mutual Recognition of Tax Credits

Shareholder tax credits issued in Australia or New Zealand should be mutually recognised by the opposite jurisdiction to facilitate greater trans-Tasman business growth and reduce majority shareholder pushes for head office relocations to Australia.
 

3.2  Non-Technical Barriers to Trade

Non-technical barriers to trade can be in many forms and it is EMA Policy to ensure that these are removed and provision to address them is included in all Free Trade Agreements, under the Trade in Services provisions at the WTO and that work in forums such as APEC should include discussions on how to address these going forward.

3.3  Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

In general the EMA supports the ongoing development of trade agreements to improve New Zealand exporters' access to international markets.
The EMA supports the development of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
This support is subject to the agreement being fully comprehensive and including all categories of products and services with as short as possible phase out of tariffs and non-tariff barriers by the signatory countries. Specifically this includes Agriculture. The support also is based on the agreement not imposing artificial trade block barriers or regulatory regimes that impose additional costs to business.
Should the agreement not be comprehensive the EMA withdraws its support and favours a move back to the original P4 agreement with extension to investment prior to the expansion of countries. 

 

4. Employment Law / Health and Safety

4.1 Employment Law 

Employment Law is at the core of the EMA’s policy activities with an almost continuous programme of monitoring and input into emerging legislation.

We are currently seeking a review of the highly complex Holidays Act and favour single formula for calculating leave rather than varying calculations in the current Holidays Act. EMA was fully engaged with recent changes to the Employment Act, the paid parental leave debate and with proposed new legislation affecting the status on contractors and piece meal workers.

The EMA is a member of the Government mandated Pay Equity Working Group that made recent proposals dealing with the very difficult and complex issue of Pay Equity and we are currently developing a working paper on the growing issues facing employers sourcing skills from a rapidly ageing workforce.

The flow of skilled migrants and identifying gaps in migrant categories is another key area for our policy team with our regular Employer’s Survey providing critical insights into this and other areas that affect the employment landscape in New Zealand.

EMA policy supports a less complicated immigration system with less market testing on the availability of local candidates. Ongoing monitoring is required to ensure the Long Term and Immediate Skill shortages lists reflect the demand for skills required by employers.

EMA policy is strongly in favour of the 90 Day Trial Period

 

4.2  OH&S

EMA worked closely with officials and others to create the new OH&S legislation introduced on April 4, 2016. The most significant change to OH&S law in recent years was introduced following the Government’s inquiry into the Pike River disaster.

While supportive of the goals of the new legislation, EMA worked closely with officials and had significant input into new regulations to assist in simplifying compliance and minimising additional red tape associated with the new legislation. EMA pushed the concept of the modern regulator to both government and Worksafe. This means that Worksafe staff are there to educate, empower, engage and then if no response then prosecute.

4.3  ACC

EMA has long campaigned for a reduction in ACC levies to reflect the now fully-funded nature of the scheme. Our voice and those of others advocating for business in New Zealand have succeed in achieving significant reductions in the levies for employers in the past 12 months or so.

EMA and Business NZ continue to have input into the ongoing review of the calculations for setting those levies. 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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