Government has a lot to learn from across the ditch

The New Zealand government should take a lesson from the government across the ditch and move its focus from mum-and-dad-the-investor to mum-and-dad-the-business owner particularly when turning companies into its tax collecting slaves.MYOB New Zealand general manager Julian Smith told the National Business Review dissatisfaction among local companies with red tape and the performance of the government continues to grow even further with more than half struggling to understand how to apply government legislation in their business.

The New Zealand government should take a lesson from the government across the ditch and move its focus from mum-and-dad-the-investor to mum-and-dad-the-business owner particularly when turning companies into its tax collecting slaves.

MYOB New Zealand general manager Julian Smith told the National Business Review dissatisfaction among local companies with red tape and the performance of the government continues to grow even further with more than half struggling to understand how to apply government legislation in their business.

According to the latest MYOB Business Monitor almost twice as many businesses are dissatisfied with the support of the government (29%) than those that are satisfied (15%).

The level of satisfaction has been falling steadily over the past nine months, with 21% of businesses expressing satisfaction in the government in November 2009, and 19% in March 2010.

In Australia, by comparison, business owners remain almost as satisfied (27%) as they are dissatisfied (31%) with their federal government’s support.

Mr Smith said most dissatisfied with the government’s support are owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which make up the majority of New Zealand businesses.

While the government provides a lot of information on its policies, it often doesn’t reach businesses, which don’t have time to keep up with all the changes, he said.

“In Australia, politically, the media and the government talk a lot about mum-and-dad-the business owner and about small businesses. In New Zealand we’ve been talking about mum-and-dad-the-investor and we talk about big businesses.

“There is very little day-to-day commentary coming from the government around small businesses.

“The Australian government has recognised that small business owners are a large voting block and it really talks about them a lot. I think the government here can take a lesson from the Australian government.”

Mr Smith said new legislation needs to be easy for businesses to understand and to implement.

“It’s all about being quick and nimble and easy to work with.”

A good example of this is the October 1 GST increase, said Mr Smith.

“While businesses are well aware of the change, as more and more businesses have recognised how much effect it will have on them, we’ve seen a massive increase in demand for information, and advice through our online GST portal, our call centre and our GST seminar series.

“This is a good example of the government driving a major change in the tax system through Kiwi businesses – in effect turning them into the nation’s tax collectors – while perhaps not recognising the level of impact every increase in red tape has on business owners.”

Businesses have been struggling over the past year with both the “sluggish” pace of the recovery and the implementation of a range of new legislation, and that is clearly reflected in falling support for the government’s business policies, he said.

“In particular, those sectors hardest hit by the recession, which are also taking the longest to recover, now strongly feel the government should be providing them with more help.”

Retail and hospitality business owners are the most dissatisfied (38%) with government support, followed by construction, trades and transport (30%).

“Businesses want an environment where their businesses can thrive. What they really want is a very lean, nimble and pragmatic government,” Mr Smith said.

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