Survey shows more businesses hindered by regulation than helped

Friday 19 April 2013, 3:05PM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand

Federated Farmers is unsurprised StatisticsNZ’s latest business operations survey has found growing business and farmer frustration at an increasing regulatory burden. It is using the survey to call on the Government to back the Regulatory Standards Bill as introduced..

“StatisticsNZ has found that New Zealand is wrapping itself up in red-tape and the more we regulate, the less benefit we get economically or socially,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“This is something proved by the Labour/Green initiative to intervene in the electricity market.

“Real jobs are created by people taking business risk but businesses are being hamstrung by regulation at almost every turn.  This is something Federated Farmers knows first hand, in acting for our members on council issues right through to Parliament.

“Business performance and New Zealand’s economic growth is being held back by regulations, be they employment, commercial or around environmental management. Indeed, twice as many employers outside the farm gate consider regulations hinder rather than help employment.

“Given 51 percent of respondents from the primary industries describe themselves as ‘exporters,’ they are the most likely to say that regulation impedes exports and therefore, New Zealand’s export-led recovery.

“While some reform is coming through for the Resource Management Act and water, reforms Federated Farmers supports, the question we must ask is whether it is enough to bring the environmental pendulum back to the centre.

“This explains why, when compared to other sectors, those in the primary industries are most likely to consider that council planning and regulatory processes are of ‘bad’ quality.

“In keeping with this week’s 2013 Federated Farmers/Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration Survey, which showed farm workers earning a superior wage to non-farm workers, we also picked up a counter intuitive high penetration of information technology in rural New Zealand.

“Some 97 percent of agricultural respondents have computers, 94 percent use the Internet and 86 percent reported having “broadband” connections.  I have to put “broadband” into speech marks because quantity does not mean quality or reliability.

“Farmers are impatient to get ultrafast broadband well beyond what the unambitious Rural Broadband Initiative promises.  Federated Farmers partnership with Vodafone and its future 4G Network points towards just that.

“While these results may seem high, there was no ‘Internet bias’ because the survey was a conventional postal one.

“Another thing we took from the Business Operations survey was the four percent of agricultural businesses that have foreign ownership.  The current high New Zealand dollar makes New Zealand an expensive place to buy land in, or makes it a very good time to dispose of assets.

“Given it was five percent last year, this fall may come as a surprise to media, politicians and public.  It may also mean that foreigners at the time of purchase are now New Zealanders.

“Ironically there is one piece of legislation languishing on the Order Paper, which would greatly help to build our economy and society.  Federated Farmers strove for it and it is called the Regulatory Standards Bill.

“The Government needs to show it has the moral fortitude to back this Bill as it was introduced,” Dr Rolleston concluded.