8 Apr 2020

Epidemic Response Committee hears from industry leaders

2:49 pm on 8 April 2020

The Epidemic Response Committee is holding its fifth meeting today.

Today it heard from business, transport, farming and tourism sector leaders.

Watch the meeting live here:

Phil O'Reilly, the former head of Business New Zealand, told the committee the government should urgently introduce measures to boost the cash flow of small businesses.

He said the government should do something similar to Australia, where there had been cash injections of between $20,000 to $100,000, or more small businesses may go under in the next few weeks.

The wage subsidy, while very welcome, would only delay the closure of many businesses, he said.

O'Reilly called for more companies to be allowed to operate during the lockdown and a rethink of of what was defined as an essential business.

The decision to allow butchers and bakeries to operate on-line was a step in the right direction but it was still confusing for many businesses, he said.

The inquiry was also hearing from Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett, Mark Cairns of the Port Company CEOs Group, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne, Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Richie, Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts and Restaurant Association of NZ chief executive Marisa Bidois.

Committee chair, National Party leader Simon Bridges, has again defended his decision to commute between Tauranga and Wellington to chair the committee. Bridges told Morning Report his decision to be in Wellington was "ultimately about effectiveness".

Yesterday, after offering up his resignation, Health Minister David Clark answered questions along with Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Otago University Professor and epidemiologist Sir David Skegg.

Clark was demoted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after revealing that he took a trip to the beach during the alert level 4 lockdown.

In the meeting yesterday, Sir David agreed with Professor Michael Baker that New Zealand could be the only western country to eliminate Covid-19.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs