Clayton Mitchell - One Year in Government



It has been an exciting and productive year for NZ First in Government. I have personally enjoyed being part of a team which is working to put all New Zealanders first.

There are many ways we are achieving this, but within my Employment & Industrial Relations portfolio the highlights would have to include raising the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour, and the retention of the 90-day trial for Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SMEs).

That’s because fair outcomes are important to NZ First. Too many workers had been struggling on an unacceptable minimum wage for too long and that needed to change. We campaigned on raising the minimum wage to $20 by 2021 and introducing a tax package to enable businesses to pay for the increase in wages. April’s increase is the first step towards achieving that goal and improving the living standards of lower-income New Zealanders.

We are also mindful of the role small business plays in New Zealand. SMEs employ 29 percent of our workforce and are estimated to contribute around 28 percent to our GDP. If we had allowed the abolition of the 90-day trial for all businesses through the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, it would have unfairly penalised small business owners, and would ultimately have had a detrimental effect on youth employment.

We successfully argued for the retention of the 90-day trial for small businesses. It was a key win for NZ First and was a great example of how a good collegial relationship can result in negotiated, balanced outcomes.

As Research and Development spokesperson, I was also especially pleased with another Coalition Policy Announcement which is to increase R&D spending by introducing a $1 billion tax credit for businesses. Work to increase R&D spending to two per cent of GDP over 10 years was part of the Coalition Agreement between New Zealand First and Labour. This incentive puts us on the path to achieving this goal.

New Zealand First has been a constructive coalition partner and will continue to take a balanced and commonsense approach to issues in order to ensure the best outcomes for all New Zealanders.




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