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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 3—Finance

3. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all of his statements and policies?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Yes, and in particular I stand by my statement that I’m proud of how New Zealanders are taking responsibility and working together as we respond to the impacts from the global disruption caused by COVID-19. I also stand by my policy to work constructively with businesses and workers as we continue our ongoing response to COVID-19 through the business continuity package.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: When will money actually reach affected businesses from any short-term wage subsidy he is planning as part of the business continuity package?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As we announced after Cabinet on Monday, we will be releasing the full details next week.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: So can he be more precise: when will money actually reach the affected businesses?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: We will be moving as swiftly as we possibly can in designing a scheme that is appropriate to this situation, which is a targeted scheme. Businesses are already able, working through IRD and the Ministry of Social Development in terms of the support of their staff, to access money. There are businesses—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member will resume his seat. Some members think this is important, and I want to be able to hear the response. I think it is irresponsible for members, having asked questions, to shout down a Minister who is attempting, in this case, to give a straight answer. Question No. 4—Jan Tinetti.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Excuse me. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.


Hon Paul Goldsmith: I was raising a point of order.

SPEAKER: A point of order, Paul Goldsmith.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I think that the reason why there was noise was that I’d asked a specific question about when we would have a date of when money would reach affected businesses from the subsidy, and he was talking about all sorts of other things not relating to the subsidy.

SPEAKER: And why does the member think that’s a point of order?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Speaking to the point of order. Largely—

SPEAKER: Give us a rough idea of which Standing Order or Speaker’s ruling the member’s referring to.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, surely the Standing Order that can be given that is relevant to the public interest and the public good would be a good place to start for a question. To simply say that we’re making an announcement next week about an announcement that we made yesterday, or some kind of never-never, doesn’t help all those tourist businesses in New Zealand that are suffering right now.

SPEAKER: All right. The member will resume his seat. What the member’s indicating is he doesn’t like the answer. That is generally the case with questions of this type in the House and has been for the last 30 years since I’ve been here. And that is not a point of order. Mr Brownlee knows it’s not a point of order, and he’s testing my patience.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Supplementary?

SPEAKER: No, I’d called the next question. So the member wants to go back now?

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Yes, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: Well, I will—no, I’m not going to seek leave. I’ll go back. I’ll be generous to him. It’s against my inclinations but I will.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Is he worried that the window to safe jobs is rapidly closing?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As we speak, there is staff from the Ministry of Social Development and the Inland Revenue Department working with businesses. Banks right across New Zealand, which I would have thought the member would have realised are the first port of call for businesses, are working closely with businesses to make sure they stay in employment. Right around the country the response from New Zealanders to this has been good. We are developing this package in line with business expectations.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Will a further substantial increase to the minimum wage on 1 April add costs to many businesses?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The increase to the minimum wage has been well signalled. Most businesses will have factored it in already. It is an important element of making sure that low-income New Zealanders are able to spend and provide for their families, and, actually, it’s in small businesses right across New Zealand that that money will be spent.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Regardless of whether people knew it was coming, will a further substantial increase in the minimum wage on 1 April add costs to many businesses?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Different businesses are affected in different ways by changes that the Government makes. What I do know is that when the minimum wage goes up, as it did under the previous Government and as it has under this Government, people spend more, and for many of those individual businesses, they will come out well and truly ahead.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Why is he adding costs to businesses at a time when many are struggling to keep their employees in employment?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I totally reject the premise of the member’s question. What we are doing is working alongside the business community to make sure that they are prepared for what may come and supporting low-income New Zealanders to have the money that they need to spend to feed their families, which supports demand in the economy. The member opposed the minimum wage increase for ideological reasons. Now is not the time to politick about it.

Kieran McAnulty: Does he stand by his statement rejecting the idea that this Government will increase GST; if so, why?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I can absolutely say that, and I was quite surprised earlier today to see the Leader of the Opposition fail to rule that out, but I guess anything’s possible with Simon Bridges. [Interruption]

SPEAKER: Order! Is the member finished now?