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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 3—Finance

3. BARBARA EDMONDS (Labour—Mana) to the Minister of Finance: What financial support is available to businesses when alert levels are raised as a result of a resurgence of COVID-19?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): The Government stands ready to support businesses affected by any extended alert level increases. We have introduced legislation today to bring in a new resurgence support payment. If alert levels are raised for seven days, firms that experience a 30 percent drop in revenue over a seven-day period will be eligible. The payment would include a core per-business rate of $1,500, plus $400 per employee up to a total of 50 fulltime-equivalents, representing a total cap of $21,500 per firm. This payment recognises that some businesses face one-off costs or impacts to cash flow when we step up an alert level and when they are following our public health advice.

Barbara Edmonds: What other support is available for businesses and workers?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The wage subsidy scheme will also be available nationally when there is a regional or national move to alert levels 3 and 4 for a period of seven days. The scheme, as we know, has been very effective in keeping people in work so far, with more than $14 billion paid out to protect 1.8 million jobs. Other support includes the enhanced loan products through the Business Finance Guarantee scheme and the Small Business Cashflow (Loan) Scheme.

Barbara Edmonds: What financial support is available for workers who need time off while they wait for the results of a COVID test?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The Government recently announced a new short-term absence payment to cover eligible workers needing to stay at home while awaiting a COVID-19 test result. This is a one-off payment of $350 to employers to pay workers who need to stay home while awaiting a test, or while someone who is their dependant is doing so, in accordance with public health advice. The Government is managing the Crown accounts carefully to ensure that there is a buffer in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence, and we are in a solid position to be able to share the burden with businesses if that is needed.

Chris Bishop: What is the reason behind the bill that the Minister has just referred to only being furnished to the Opposition at 10.33 this morning, when it’s due to go through all stages under urgency this afternoon at approximately 3 o’clock?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The bill was provided as soon as it was possible to do so. The bill is a relatively uncomplicated piece of legislation.