Parliament has resumed again and I am feeling energised and positive about continuing to bring the perspective of the people of Selwyn to our House of Representatives as your local MP. A great many of you have already shared with me your views on the issues of euthanasia and the use of medicinal cannabis, and I thank you for doing so.
While these issues can provoke strong opinions on both sides, sometimes topics such as the economy or industrial relations can make us switch off.
Under the National-led Government, New Zealand has had an enviable track record over of lifting employment and growing wages, with 245,000 jobs created in the last two years. Wages are growing at twice the rate of inflation and we now have the third highest employment rate in the OECD.
All the evidence is that our current employment settings are some of the best and most successful in the world. Take home pay for someone on the average wage has increased twice as fast in New Zealand as in Australia.
Unfortunately the current Government seems determined to bring in reforms that have strangled growth in other economies, thus putting at risk the very positive job market New Zealand has enjoyed over the last few years.
The Government’s planned labour market reforms will result in fewer jobs for Kiwi workers, increase the cost of living and make our businesses less competitive.
The Government says that removing the starting out wage and 90-day trials for businesses with more than 20 staff will help support workers, but instead it will make it much harder for young, unskilled and vulnerable workers to find employment.
While a rapid increase in the minimum wage to $20 per hour sounds at face value like a brilliant idea, the advice from Government officials is that this would cost tens of thousands of jobs.
Meanwhile the Government’s proposals for 1970s-style standardised wages bargaining will mean that entire industries will be bound by a collective agreement setting minimum standards for wages, allowances, hours of work and leave arrangements.
Because negotiation can occur between unions and an industry body under these so-called “Fair Pay Agreements”, it is possible that employers and employees in a workplace covered by the agreements may not even be part of the negotiations, which doesn’t seem fair at all.
This policy is out of step with the way the world is going. With changing technology, modern workplaces need to be flexible and resilient – not locked into outdated industry-wide agreements.
Already we are seeing businesses across the country lose confidence and saying they are planning on hiring fewer people.
New Zealanders have become used to living in the successful, aspirational country that they have worked so hard for. The challenge is to ensure that continues and that is why we have launched a campaign, “Protect NZ jobs”, to explain the proposals so that everyone is aware of what is being planned. For more information, visit www.protectNZjobs.co.nz .