Chris Baillie, ACT’s small business spokesperson
Chris Baillie, ACT’s small business spokesperson

OPINION: Small business deserves a break - Chris Baillie, ACT’s small business spokesperson

Opinion 05/10/2020

This op-ed is written by Chris Baillie, ACT’s small business spokesperson.

OPINION: It’s a hard time to be a business owner at the moment. I know because I run a pub in Nelson which employs 30 people. There’s a sense of pride in being able to employ people and also a huge sense of responsibility to keep them in employment. Making things easier for businesses to employ people, without tangling them in red tape is one of the things that drove me to towards politics.

Speaking as a businessman, I have to say that in three years, this Labour Government has shown a complete lack of understanding about how business works.  And this is at a time when small business has never been more important to economic recovery.

The Government has raised the minimum wage, scrapped 90-day trials and forced us to close our doors for weeks on end. I take my hat off all the business owners out there who have survived this.

I employ 30 fantastic staff.  During the recent lockdown, they were all looked after very well with the wage subsidy.  Effectively, they were put on a benefit until we could open our doors again.

But not only did our rent, rates, power, phone and many other fixed costs, continue. The Beehive put the minimum wage up, knowing there was zero income for the business. It just doesn’t make sense.

I was really proud to stand next to ACT Leader David Seymour last week to deliver our policies that will benefit small businesses. As an employer, I want to be able to take a chance on hiring someone new. For us to get out of this recession, it’s going to take a business owner taking a chance on hiring someone… thousands of times over.

That’s why ACT has put a three-year moratorium on raising the minimum wage. It means business owners might be able to take on another person or two. We’ll bring back 90-day trials for all businesses. It means when someone who you might consider high risk applies for a job you can afford to take a chance on them, and they can prove themselves to be up to the task.

These are just a few of the initiatives ACT is fighting for, along with a 12-month reduction in GST from 15% to 10%, prioritising and streamlining immigration and making it easier for businesses to take on apprentices.

As well running a business, I’m a teacher who works with special needs students and I’ve been a Police Youth Aid officer. I have a poster on the wall in my classroom that says ‘just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.” This is a message I’ll be bringing to Parliament with me as ACT continues to fight for free speech.

It’s just two weeks until the polls close and I can’t wait to stand alongside David Seymour more regularly as we continue to announce our positive plans for New Zealand, and hold all of the other parties to account.

This op-ed is written by Chris Baillie, ACT’s small business spokesperson.