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Small businesses offer Chris Hipkins advice: ‘Take some of the pain off’

PM Chris Hipkins fronts his first post-cabinet press conference as Prime Minister

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Small business owners have a lot to say to new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Small businesses across Aotearoa aren’t confident the new prime minister will address their issues in time to win them over before the general election.

Ahead of Chris Hipkins talking shop with business leaders in Tāmaki Makaurau today, small businesses spoken to by RNZ say he’s got a lengthy to-do list to tick off if he’s to secure their vote on 14 October.

Owner of Nelson-based food and catering business Kiwi Kai Reni Gargiulo won last year’s Supreme Māori Businesswoman award, but is struggling to stay afloat.

She said Hipkins had a lot of cobwebs to sweep out – including labour and immigration issues.

She said staffing shortages for their business has meant she has had to interview in Qatar to find a chef.

“There’s such a shortage of chefs in New Zealand purely because they haven’t been able to let them in.”

Air Milford CEO Hank Sproull also wanted to see government loosen immigration settings.

In Queenstown he said, they couldn’t get enough staff, and the staff already there were burnt out.

“We’ve been screaming out to get more immigrants in here, and it’s taking such a long time for the wheels to turn to get people to come back to New Zealand.”

He said the prime minister needed to listen to what small businesses are telling the government.

Meanwhile, Christchurch pharmacy owner Annabel Turley said she wanted to see pharmacists added to the skills shortage list.

She said currently there was a real lack of pharmacists in New Zealand.

Turley however was excited that the new prime minister was the former Minister of Police.

She hoped it would mean he would be focused on crime.

“I think crime and antisocial behaviour has become quite a problem in New Zealand.”

She said she would like to see increased police numbers and an increased police presence in central cities.

The owner of Saint Andrews Dairy in Hamilton, Dhaval Amin, said he wanted to see a crackdown on youth crime.

He stopped selling cigarettes to deter would-be thieves.

Unimpressed with Jacinda Ardern, Amin said he would support Hipkins if he adopted National leader Christopher Luxon’s policy of introducing bootcamps to pull thieving and ram-raiding youth into line.

In Tāmaki Makaurau, Grownup Donuts owner Daniel Black said he wanted to see Hipkins live up to his promise to prioritise bread and butter issues of inflation and cost of living.

“We’ve got a rising interest rate which is gonna get every Kiwi with a mortgage, and we’ve got rising cost of foods going through the roof.”

“Let’s see some policies that help take some of the pain off,” he said.

Ashburton dairy farmer Nick Giera said he was happy to see a fresh face at the top, but he didn’t think Hipkins would make any difference.

Giera said the prime minister would need to enact radical change to get his vote – like repealing Three Waters and dialling back the onus on farmers to slash emissions.

“There hasn’t been too many governments that have stood in the way of small business like the recent Labour government.

“So yeah, I can’t see how he would do enough really to get farmers’ confidence.”

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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