National's reopening plan would see areas with 70 percent vaccination and no Covid-19 move to level 1, and fully vaccinated businesses returning to normal operation.
It would also bring in rental support, temporary tax cuts and industry-specific support.
Watch the media conference here:
The party released its Back in Business financial plan in Wellington this morning, offering various incentives and support to businesses.
Businesses, alert levels and proof of vaccination:
- Allow businesses under level 2 to operate normally if all staff are fully vaccinated
- Take any area at least 70 percent fully vaccinated with no Covid in the community to alert level 1 immediately
- Allow businesses to operate under level 2 with no capacity constraints provided all customers show proof of vaccination
- Pay half of rental costs for small businesses with a 40 percent reduction in revenue
- Ensure businesses can legally require staff to be vaccinated
- Ensure businesses can legally require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry
- Allow fully vaccinated people with proof to attend work, events, gyms, restaurants or bars under level 3
- Provide rapid antigen tests free of charge to businesses, free of charge, for twice-weekly tests for all staff
- Extend the wage subsidy to cover alert level 2
- Lower wage subsidy revenue loss threshold to 30 percent, and increase payments to $800 per full time or $480 per part-time employee
- Require wage subsidy payments to be processed within five working days
- Introduce a temporary (two year) 17.5 percent tax rate for small businesses
- Cut taxes for workers by increasing the upper threshold for paying the 10.5 percent income tax from $14,000 to $17,000 for the next two years
- Distribute $100 vouchers for use at any hospitality, accommodation and tourism business to every fully vaccinated adult (expires after six months)
- Allow hospitality businesses to extend outdoor seating into public spaces where safe and practical, overriding council bylaws
- Establish a $50m insurance scheme for major events planning
- Allow all fully vaccinated staff to cross regional boundaries if they have a negative test, including rapid antigen tests
- Abolish regional travel restrictions at 85-90 percent vaccination rate
- Introduce a two-year moratorium on any changes to regulations or legislation that adds to the cost of business
- A $150,000 immediate write-off on costs of new plant, equipment and related software to stimulate investment in more productive assets, and reinstate the asset write-off threshold at $5000
- Establish a small business mental health programme
These measures were in addition to vaccination rate targets of 85 to 90 percent across the country and across all DHBs as set out in the party's reopening plan released three weeks ago.
However, party leader Judith Collins today told Morning Report National would instead end lockdowns by 1 December, if that came earlier.
She said businesses did not want pity and handouts, they just wanted a fair go.
"They want to be trusted to get on with the job of creating value, serving their customers, and employing others ... if we want those businesses to be around once we are through this pandemic, we need to act."
She said the government had continued to make "vague announcements and promising more detail in the future" when what was needed was a plan.
"We need a plan because we now have more than 350,000 New Zealanders dependent on a benefit. That's about one in every nine of the working age population."
She called on the government to adopt National's plan immediately, saying it would provide immediate support to keep businesses afloat in the next 12 months, and would move the country beyond lockdowns and alert level rules "that no longer make sense".
"Spending to support these businesses today will pay off for the economy tomorrow, but beyond that the best thing we can do is to help businesses survive the next 12 months is to reduce the need for support in the first place. That means doing whatever it takes to avoid lockdown."
Revenue spokesperson Andrew Bayly said the wage subsidy scheme had been designed with short, sharp lockdowns in mind and were never intended to keep businesses going through extended lockdown like the one seen in Auckland, now in its ninth week.
Finance spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said the government had cynically used the cover of Covid-19 as a "bottomless ATM with which to advance its political agenda".
He said it had spent at least $12 billion from the Covid-19 fund on things that could not by any measure be considered related to Covid-19, including three waters reforms, and cameras on fishing boats.
"The waste simply has to stop."
Meanwhile, with inflation rising rapidly - in part because of government stimulus - families were struggling, he said.
"It's now the biggest medium-term threat to the New Zealand economy and the government must recognise this ... we all recognise Covid has changed a lot and no one is calling for austerity or cuts to services like health and education but we simply cannot allow government to use Covid as an excuse to spend us into financial ruin."
Despite the costs outlined in its plan, National would recommit to a 15 to 25 percent range for debt-to-GDP and be clear about when this would be achieved, he said.
"The overall package will result in lower spending by government into the economy and more generous spending for the people that need it the most.
"The real key to this is getting back to business and getting businesses operating in the way that they would, avoiding the need for government support."