Small businesses must top political agenda

David Shearer

Growing our small businesses should always be at the top of the political agenda.

This is because small businesses were responsible for nearly a third of New Zealand’s economy last year.

We are an innovative, pioneering nation. About 41% of new jobs created in 2014 were in firms with fewer than 20 employees.

That is why I was disappointed in this year’s national budget – and I am hearing the same from friends and constituents who own businesses.

The budget included nothing for small business; no plan to boost growth, support businesses and create the jobs and opportunities New Zealanders so keenly need.

The government has ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy.

Narrow focus

According to Finance Minister Bill English, the main reason New Zealand has been unable to get out of deficit is a drop in global dairy prices. Surely that proves our economy is too narrowly focused on dairy farming.

Over the past seven years, the government should have been carefully diversifying and modernising the economy to create strong regions and extra jobs.

When small businesses get ahead, job growth goes up and unemployment goes down. I want to see plenty of jobs around for those who need them. For that, we need a strong and thriving small-business economy.

Labour’s Plan

By contrast, Labour has been supporting small businesses at the front and centre of our economic plan.

We want to make sure that when working people make the leap to start a business, they will not face unnecessary hurdles to do so.

We want to make sure that small business owners get to spend more time focussed on making their business work, instead of filling out their tax forms.

We want to make more training available to new business owners so that someone who has never owned a business before can get up and running without too much red tape.

We want to help businesses that want to diversify their offerings because we know that it is better for our economy when we do not have all our eggs in one basket.

No Labour budget will overlook small businesses.

We will make it easier to start a business and have it succeed.

David Shearer is Member of Parliament elected from Mt Albert and Labour Party’s Spokesman for Foreign Affairs and Consumer Affairs.

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