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Political visions

Boardroom asked the five parties currently in Parliament about their long term vision - and immediate priorities - should they be returned after the election. Four responses are listed below alphabetically (New Zealand First did not respond to the request for comment).

By Institute of Directors
28 Sep 2020
aerial view of road winding through green fields

ACT leader David Seymour

What is your vision for New Zealand in 2050?

A country in which we support, not stop, people from being innovative. We need to seize the opportunities presented by COVID-19. This could be the reset New Zealand has long needed but we have to be honest about why productivity hasn’t grown and our economy has not been firing. We must begin by reforming our outdated laws.

Resource management reform must be a priority of the next government. We need a clear commitment to replacing a law that is out of date.

New Zealand is regularly ranked as one of the most difficult countries to send capital to. If we are going to have an economic renaissance we will need foreign capital. We should fast track foreign investment from friendly OECD countries.

Genetics students at Auckland University tell me they have solutions to some of our most pressing issues. The problem? Because of our superstitious, medieval laws around genetic engineering, they need to go to California to test them outside the lab.

What about fintech? Harmoney, an innovative business in Epsom, had to cancel their original business model of peer-to-peer lending because of restrictive regulations. I suspect that, over time, they will become an overseas company as a result. We need to create an environment in which innovators are supported.

What would your focus areas be over the next three years?

ACT’s focus will be on restarting the economy, reconnecting safely with the world and starting to repay the debt.

Restarting the economy will require tax cuts, a reduction in low-value spending, a return to 90-day trials for all firms and cutting red tape that holds us back, particularly the Resource Management Act. Our Alternative Budget has more detail.

Reconnecting safely with the world means the next government must do a better job at public health and creating smart and safe borders. ACT has released five principles for being a world leader in public health: stop preaching fear and ask what we can do, not what we can’t do; have an open debate; start working on a country-by-country basis; augment our public health response with better technology; engage with the private sector.

Government can do one of three things to get back to surplus and begin repaying the debt: tax more, spend less or grow faster. New Zealand is already the most heavily-taxed economy in the Asia-Pacific. As a proportion of GDP, we pay 32% to local and central government, more than Australia, Japan, Singapore and Korea. We can’t increase taxes and doing so will mean option three – growing faster – won’t happen. We must reduce low-value, politically-motivated spending we can no longer afford. Only ACT has put forward a credible plan to get back to surplus and begin repaying the debt.

What are the key issues facing business in 2021?

Infrastructure is a key barrier to greater productivity. Governments have chosen where to build infrastructure based not on economic need, but political advantage. ACT would remove infrastructure decisions from Ministers and vest them in an independent infrastructure corporation. It would be held to transparent performance indicators like the average speed reached on major arterial routes. Replacing political discretion with economic discipline will get more congestion reduction and road safety for every taxpayer dollar spent.

We would also replace fuel excise with congestion charging, encouraging drivers to drive at non-peak times or use alternative modes of transport without punishing owners of vehicles with poor fuel economy. It would also provide a price signal, showing where there is the most demand for new roading infrastructure.

Skills are another barrier. COVID-19 has closed the border, but the government should be looking to open to COVID-free countries like those in the Pacific Islands. Why, for example, can’t recognised seasonal employers in the horticulture sector bring workers here from COVID-free Samoa?

More generally, businesses need greater certainty from the government around its public health strategy, how it will get back to surplus and begin repaying the debt, and what its plan for tax and regulation is.

Green Party co-leader Hon James Shaw

What is your vision for New Zealand in 2050?

In 2050, the Green Party wants an Aotearoa where everyone has what they need, businesses and homes thrive on the power of clean energy, and our precious environment is protected for future generations.

We want New Zealanders to be able to hear a dawn chorus from birds that once bordered on extinction, and to be able to swim in their local rivers, free from pollution.

The Green Party wants a thriving economy which harnesses nature’s power without exploiting it. New Zealand can be a global leader on climate change, transitioning to a low carbon economy and supporting communities to reduce emissions.

We can set an example for the world to follow, and be well-placed to support communities that need to adapt to rising seas and changing weather patterns.

All New Zealanders will enjoy the benefits of living in a more equal Aotearoa where everyone has what they need to live a good life. We want a country where Kiwis can afford warm, safe housing and still put food on the table. The Green Party wants everyone paid fairly for the work they do and a strong social safety net which gives people the help they need, when they need it.

What would your focus areas be over the next three years?

The Green Party’s top priorities are climate action, healthy nature and tackling inequality.

During this term in government we’ve made huge progress in these areas, including passing the Zero Carbon Act and reforming the Emissions Trading Scheme. We have secured the strongest ever protections for our waterways, created thousands of new green jobs to employ those who have lost theirs as a result of the pandemic crisis and invested millions of dollars in sustainable projects.

Now we want to go further and faster to protect our people and the environment so everyone can thrive in our communities.

What are the key issues facing business in 2021?

The global economic consequences of COVID-19 are still emerging, but we already know the crisis will reshape the world fundamentally.

Our business sector will face enormous challenges in 2021 but, because of our team effort, we are in a stronger position than almost every other country on Earth.

One thing is for sure, we will not see a simple return to the status quo. Therefore we should think ahead and focus our efforts on what sort of economy, what sort of society and what state the environment we want in the future.

The path ahead will require outside-the-box thinking. One key issue for business will be to rapidly innovate in the face of changing circumstances. What opportunities might open up for New Zealand, as one of the only clean, green and COVID-free countries?

Another key issue will be how to collaborate across sectors and between business and government to direct the post-COVID stimulus spend towards a new generation of infrastructure.

We have an opportunity and a responsibility to direct every dollar of short-term stimulus towards solving long-term challenges facing the country. These include the need to increase housing supply, replace our aging three waters infrastructure, stave off the biodiversity crisis, decarbonise the economy and build additional renewable electricity generation.

The Green Party will work with the private sector to increase productivity and wages, reduce environmental damage, and grow the value of sustainable exports as we navigate the COVID-19 economic response.

beach and bachs from aerial view

Labour Party Deputy Leader and Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson

What is your vision for New Zealand in 2050?

New Zealand is a vastly different country today than it was just a year ago. Together we’re facing the biggest health crisis and the biggest economic crisis in 100 years. One of the challenges New Zealand faces this election is there’s so much uncertainty. Nobody knows exactly what the next three years will bring, let alone the next 30. But we’re committed to building a better New Zealand in wake of COVID-19.

In the midst of global crisis, we are still thinking long term and planning for the future by investing in people and environment. Our economic plan is based on making New Zealand more productive, sustainable and inclusive. The result of that will be make sure that kids today are growing up in warm, dry houses, learning in decent classrooms, and that their families have secure incomes and access to world class healthcare.

We’re seeing the benefits of this work already, but by 2050 the investments we’re making now will have been fully realised as a more productive, connected and resilient New Zealand. We’re building thousands of public houses, rebuilding our long-neglected hospitals and schools, taking mental health seriously, and taking real action on climate change. And we’re investing in free apprenticeships and trades training to help the New Zealand workforce bounce back from COVID-19.

Through the progress we’ve already made, and the progress we will make over the next term, New Zealand will build back better.

What would your focus areas be over the next three years?

Labour is already rolling out our plan to build a better New Zealand in the wake of the pandemic. As a result of our team going hard and early, we’re currently performing well. We’re containing the virus, opening up New Zealand’s economy faster than other countries, and looking after our people.

And we’re getting on with our plan to rebuild. We’re investing in our people, cushioning the blow with the wage subsidy and investing in extra mental health and wellbeing support. We’re getting Kiwis back to work and training by making apprenticeships free, building thousands of new state houses and creating thousands of jobs on crucial infrastructure projects. We’re preparing for the future by investing in clean energy, housing and our environment.

We backed our small businesses, entrepreneurs and job creators through the COVID-19 outbreak and continue to support them to grow and export, with tax refunds, interest free loans and more. And we’re positioning New Zealand globally by helping exporters connect with overseas markets and negotiating trade deals with the UK and the EU.

Our work over the next term in government is to keep rolling out this plan, making wise investments to improve New Zealanders’ wellbeing for many years to come. Labour’s plan will keep New Zealand moving.

What are the key issues facing business in 2021?

Labour has backed New Zealand businesses during COVID-19. We acted quickly to cushion the blow on businesses and workers with the wage subsidy scheme that supported around 1.7 million workers through the lockdown. And we’ve continued to provide support as the pandemic has exploded through the global economy.

We’ve made significant changes to the tax system to boost cash flow and encourage investment. We’ve provided low interest and interest-free loans to more than 50,000 businesses. We’ve changed laws and regulations to help people stay in work. And we’ve set up more business consultancy support to provide advice and help businesses get through the tough time. And we’ll continue our massive infrastructure investment programme, including new roads and public transport, to create jobs and fill New Zealand’s infrastructure deficit.

As a result of our success with our health response, our economy is now more open than almost any other country in the world. There’s no doubt there will be economic challenges ahead as the pandemic rages overseas, but New Zealand is well-positioned to build back better right now. Labour will continue to roll out its plan to support New Zealand businesses and grow the economy, providing proven, stable, and trusted leadership to help us through.

National Party finance spokesperson Hon Paul Goldsmith

What is your vision for New Zealand in 2050?

Our vision is for a prosperous, dynamic country where people have opportunities to succeed. Not just making a lifestyle decision to live in New Zealand, but seeing opportunities for themselves and their families to reach their potential. A prosperous economy where Kiwis can find satisfying and well-paying work that allows them to enjoy a high standard of living.

More broadly, I want to see a country that has preserved and built on the things that are special about New Zealand now, such as the quality of our environment, so that our water is cleaner, our forests continue to regenerate, and our air is clearer. But also that we strengthen our social cohesion between the rich and poor, and the people from many ethnicities who call New Zealand home. We should never take for granted our high levels of trust and low levels of corruption, our freedoms and our commitment to the rule of law.

What would your focus areas be over the next three years?
  1. Creating jobs. The government clearly believes the best way to create jobs is for the government to buy them. National has a different view. Astute government investment during a crisis can help generate jobs, but the primary engine of sustainable job creation is private sector investment.
  2. Making sure debt doesn’t spiral out of control. The actions we take today could leave a legacy of debt for future generations. Such levels of debt would leave our children and grandchildren – not to mention ourselves – profoundly vulnerable to the inevitable next shock. The recipe for getting on top of debt hasn’t changed. Rather than the lazy option of putting up taxes we will rely on the prudent mix of disciplined spending and growth-orientated policies.
  3. Making a start on infrastructure that will transform our economy. National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned and then get them delivered. We have already announced our $17b Upper North Island Transport Programme that would connect Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga with four-lane expressways to create a genuinely integrated region of 2.5 million New Zealanders. A further $14b in projects will be announced over the remainder of the country.
What are the key issues facing business in 2021?
  1. Safely opening the border. On setting a path to make progress on the border, we recognise the great anxiety being felt by New Zealanders about a potential second wave of COVID-19. The most important thing for the economy is to avoid a return to any sort of lockdown. That is why competent management of the border and quarantine arrangements is vital.
  2. The restoration of an environment where business feels confident to invest. National has an economic plan to restore business confidence and revive the economy. The core elements to the economic recovery are lower taxes, regulatory restraint, consistency and an openness to investment.

The article is featured in the August/September issue of Boardroom magazine.

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