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A week in advocacy 

Sharper focus on privacy
The first parts of a new Privacy Act came into force this week.  The new Act will require employers to protect personal information whether collected here or overseas.  Any privacy breach likely to cause serious harm must be notified to affected parties and the Privacy Commissioner.  And privacy complaints may be made on behalf of others as a class action.  Breaches of the Act will incur fines up to $10,000.  The changes require a sharper focus on privacy protection by businesses.

Infrastructure for recovery
Projects receiving infrastructure funding announced this week are a positive step towards post-Covid recovery and transformation, BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope said.  “The BusinessNZ network has been advocating hard for more support in regional New Zealand.  Investment in infrastructure is an excellent way to develop employment and regional economies.  Work will be needed to ensure the right skills are available for the regional development projects.”

Equal pay arrears worry
The Equal Pay Act is being changed to include pay equity.  This widens the Act from “same pay for the same work” to include “same pay for equivalent work.”  The changes stem from the Kristine Bartlett case which established that pay rates now can be set for whole occupations deemed to be equivalent to others.  BusinessNZ supports bargaining for equity but not the possibility of large wage arrears being awarded across occupations deemed equivalent.

RMA making consents harder to get
The latest change to the Resource Management Act now gives councils the power to consider climate change effects when making consenting decisions.  BusinessNZ says this is an unnecessary power because consenting decisions can’t reduce NZ’s net emissions now that the Zero Carbon Act has set an emissions ceiling - the new power will simply make council consents more expensive and harder to get.

Wealth tax: less prosperity overall
Greens’ tax policy would be hard on business: policy unveiled by the Greens this week included a universal minimum income, child benefit payments and ACC compensation for health conditions as well as injuries, funded by a tax on net total assets over $1 million and a top tax rate of 42%.  BusinessNZ says the tax plans would reduce the incentive to invest in business or grow a business, bringing less prosperity overall.

ACC levies reviewed after election
ACC accounts have had a massive increase in liability mainly because of declining interest rates but levies won’t be raised before the election.  A lower interest rate environment means less income from ACC’s investments and an increase in future claims liabilities.  Last year ACC reported its largest-ever deficit, over $8 billion, and during lockdown the deficit figure became highly volatile.  ACC will review levies again after the election when it has stronger information on costs and returns.


Business Update is a weekly update of activity and advocacy by the BusinessNZ Network

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