Advocacy for manufacturing and exporting

September 2021

At The Chamber, we provide a strong voice on key issues impacting local manufacturers and exporters via four key platforms: directly to Government and Ministers; through our role as a founding member of the BusinessNZ Network; via submissions, including at a local and central government level; and through media engagement. This supports the provision of one-on-one business advice and support from our advisors, seminars, workshops, events, and webinars, and through our Export Advisory Group and the TMN Advisory group.  

Since lockdown we have provided advice and support on workplace operations at changing Alert Levels; advice on how to access Government financial support, such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme, Resurgence Support Payment, Short-Term Absence Payment, and Leave Support Scheme; helped employers understand employer obligations for staff during Alert Levels; advice on the vaccination rollout and workers; advice to support on human resource challenges, including changes to staffing, employee wellness and helping meet Health and Safety obligations; and general business advice to support business continuity. 

We are also continuing to raise (and would value your feedback on) key issues such as the vaccine rollout and current supply; the Government’s thinking about future lockdowns and how to prevent these; new modes of contract tracing, and testing such as saliva testing; status of border re-opening announcements given lockdown (if vaccine advances ahead of schedule will this mean we stay on track); MIQ system breakdown; skills shortages; mental health impact and support for business (employers and employees); plans for additional financial support for businesses – specifically to cover other overheads for businesses; and the impact of the lockdown and impact on the Government’s policy agenda.

Exporting and manufacturing specific advocacy
- We are advocating strongly around the MIQ border breakdowns and the issues this is causing local businesses, including:
o The inability to access to skilled staff from offshore and the unfilled positions within many businesses
o Businesses unable to send staff offshore for important sales and marketing relationship building due to an inability to book MIQ spots for staff returning from offshore
o Businesses unable to send staff offshore to install and commission complex plant and equipment due to an inability to book MIQ spots for staff returning from offshore
- Also current supply chain issues, including global shipping issues, disrupted shipping calls to New Zealand ports, rising shipping costs, issues bringing stock and parts into New Zealand, and issues for exporters getting product to global markets
- Keeping domestic supply chains open for New Zealand businesses outside of Auckland under Level 4 lockdown
- We have assisted exporters to connect with officials on early vaccinations and MIQ spots for critical business travel
- Advocated for the continuation of the air cargo support, and for ongoing assistance in the light of ongoing shipping constraints
- Continued advocacy for the employers of seasonal and migrant workers
- Helped to get more reasonable guidelines developed on what constitutes research & development for tax incentive purposes: advocacy to the Research, Science & Innovation Minister resulted in former Growth Grant recipients getting the same support as they did previously while the transition to the R&D Tax Incentive scheme is properly bedded in
- Representations to MPI on behalf of food exporters resulted in MPI tasking a senior official as champion for processed food exports within MPI

Employment Relations
- Contributed to the Holidays Act Review and working group developing a replacement law
- Co-designing unemployment insurance scheme to support and retrain employees made redundant
- Actively challenging government plans for ‘fair pay agreements’ - proposed huge collective agreements covering entire sectors or occupations
- Achieving investigation into ‘fair pay agreements’ and whether they would contravene international labour law, by the International Labour Organisations
- Advocated for upholding the freedom to contract as part of a Taskforce established by Government to make recommendations on proposed ‘Better Protections for Contractors’
- Intervened in Employment Court case re holiday pay, which could create multi-million-dollar liabilities for firms whose discretionary bonus payments were not included in gross earnings when calculating holiday pay (Metropolitan Glass and Glazing v MBIE) 
- Intervened in Employment Court case relating to the status of workers unable to work at home during Covid-19 lockdown and whether they were ‘working’ for the purposes of receiving wages under the Minimum Wage Act (Gate Gourmet Ltd v Joils & Ors)

Education Skills and Immigration
- Advocacy for more apprenticeship funding led to employer subsidies over $100m to train new apprentices (Apprenticeship Boost) 
- Achieved changes to the criteria and approval rate of border exemptions for critical workers, provided direct support to businesses to get through the process 
- Provided guidance on visa extensions for migrant workers
- Supported businesses in their policy engagement on vocational education changes

- Advocated for a review of local government funding given NZ’s local infrastructure deficit; Government has now announced a review including funding for infrastructure

Energy and Emissions

- We continue to highlight the increasing electricity and energy costs, including the costs hitting companies coming off old contracts and facing soaring costs particularly in the spot markets 
- Recommendations on the Climate Change Commission’s advice were followed by changes around the role of business, sensitivity and distributional impact analysis, and the role of alternative fuels and technologies
- Worked on refinements to the Emissions Trading Scheme including auction rules
- Helped businesses access EECA grants: Low Emissions Vehicle Contestable Fund and Government Investment in Decarbonisation Fund 
- Developed Energy Scenarios to help businesses think about NZ’s energy future and the choices and trade-offs that could be made 
- Developing low-carbon energy vision prior to 2022 strategy to decarbonise the transport, industrial, primary, commercial and residential sectors. 
- Developing opportunities for the Ministry of Transport to hear the diverse views of business on decarbonising NZ’s heavy transport fleet