Acknowledging the crucial role that the business sector plays in New Zealand's success should be a priority for any incoming government following the October election, and that requires a shift in attitude, according to the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA).
"Positive signals about the value of a business to the country from a new Government in October would be a welcome relief and perhaps a turning point for the business community," said the EMA's Head of Advocacy, Strategy and Finance, Alan McDonald.
"Over the past few years, the narrative around a business has been quite negative while the costs of doing business have continued to rise as business owners dealt with multiple legislative changes over a short period."
McDonald continued that the negative attitude needed to shift, which has been central to the EMA's recently released policy manifesto ahead of the election.
In the lead-up to the General Election on 14 October, the EMA released its 2023 Policy Manifesto, highlighting what businesses need to thrive.
The 2023 Policy Manifesto outlines a wish list of what EMA's members believed the next Government needed to prioritise to create the most productive and sustainable business environment.
"A thriving, growing, more productive business sector mindful of its environmental, climate, diversity and community responsibilities is critical to the success of our country, and any new Government should acknowledge that role."
McDonald said that the business sector had repeatedly stated its desire to work and partner with Government, providing ideas, resources, and even funding to help the country achieve its goals. Acknowledging that position of importance would be a massive step for a new Government.
Despite some macroeconomic indicators showing New Zealand's economy is performing adequately, the resilience and confidence of many small businesses remained notably low.
Through the 2023 Policy Manifesto, the EMA has suggested and asked for measures to help create a more productive economy, ranging from infrastructure and employment relations to climate change and skills.
"Many businesspeople we work with at the EMA have been running hard for two or three years."
He explained that fatigue caused by Covid, weather events, and a slew of employment and other legislation has generally raised costs and increased complexity with no discernible benefit to businesses. And there is growing concern about the mental well-being of business owners and their people.
"Acknowledging the positive role of business would be a welcome circuit breaker."