Is she satisfied with the improvement from 5.3 out of 10 to 5.8 out of 10 that the Small Business Advisory Group has scored the Government’s response to its recommendations; if so, why?
Relatively so, because it is going in the right direction.
Was it the Government’s consistent low scoring by the Small Business Advisory Group that led her to replace its entire membership; if not, why did she not retain several members, for the benefit of their institutional knowledge?
Mr Cleverley, who was a member of the group, was reported in the Dominion Post on 29 December 2006 as saying: “It is good to see we’re on the ball over there. Being part of the group involved a lot of unpaid time so after 3 years it was time for the first group to move on and a fresh lot to step in.”
When was the first Small Business Advisory Group established, and what has been the response to the Government having such an advisory group?
The first group was established in 2003, originally for 18 months, but the members agreed to stay on until the end of 2006. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. As the group said in its final report to me: “It has created an effective conduit between small business and Government policy makers. We want to thank the Government for giving us open access to Ministers, officials, and documents. We have valued the trust you have placed in us.”
If, as the Minister stated in February 2006, the Holidays Act is “fundamentally sound”, why was she corrected by the advisory group, which said: “The Holidays Act is not a fundamentally sound piece of legislation. It is extremely difficult to implement.”?
As Mr Cleverley also stated in the Dominion Post on 29 December 2006: “It was brave of the Government to appoint such a group, which had at times given the Government blunt advice about dealing with the concerns and challenges of small business.” The difference between advice and Government policy is that one informs the other. We do not necessarily agree with advice.
If, as the Minister stated: “The Government is committed to enacting a real change for small and medium enterprises.”, then why has the Government ignored the advisory group’s calls in both its reports for a personal grievance - free probation period for new employees?
The member would know, if he had actually read the Government response to the second report, that we have, indeed, published one of the options that the group put up in that document, which suggests a different way of dealing with the issue rather than having a probation-free period. That is not the only option that should be considered.
What has the Minister done to advocate on behalf of the 211,000 self-employed persons who make up 63 percent of small businesses that the Small Business Advisory Group was formed to represent, but who will miss out on both KiwiSaver and the business tax benefits that the Government will deliver to the employed and to corporations this year?