ACT wants to freeze minimum wage for three years

By Bronson Perich

ACT leader David Seymour (Ngāpuhi) says there were inconsistencies in the Coalition government’s Covid-19 control measures.

“The rules should be that if you can do something safely, then you should be allowed to do it,” David Seymour says.

Letting a film crew and a sailing regatta team come into the country while butchers had to close are two examples of what he termed "absurdities".

Meat works stayed open during lockdown while butchers had to close - Photo / File

Borrow less for future generations to repay

However, ACT did not oppose all of the government's Covid-19 measures. Seymour says the party supported the wage subsidy.

“The wage subsidy was the right thing to do at the time,” he says.

“It was a simple and fast scheme that allowed businesses to hold themselves together.

The wage subsidy, he says, enabled businesses to keep their employees paid so they could stay in business long enough to recover.

The Epsom MP wants the government to curtail its borrowing, so that future generations don’t have to pay back as much.

“People will always say that the government could have done more,” Seymour says.

“But it’s important to remember the other side of the balance sheet.

“Everything the government borrows has to be paid back sooner or later.”

Freezing  minimum wage

To reduce the need for SMEs (small-medium businesses) to rely on government handouts,  Seymour proposes a variety of changes.

Killing provisional tax for businesses that earn less than $5 million a year, and holding the minimum wage for three years are two of those proposed changes.

“Stop putting extra cost on to business. Stop putting compliance on to business and actually allow them to create jobs,” Seymour says.

He took a shot at the $2 billion investment into mental health and addiction.

“It’s a huge amount of money. Yet almost nobody seems to be happy with the quality of mental health and addiction services,” Seymour says.

ACT's plan to use the $2b fund

Mental health, addiction and suicide are now major areas of concern - Photo / File

Seymour would like to take that pūtea, and create a national buying agency, named Mental Health and Addictions New Zealand (MHANZ).

“MHANZ does not provide service. It’s an expert for sending the money to the best person for a particular individual,” Seymour says.

It effectively removes the district health boards from deciding what to do with national health funding. MHANZ would assess a person, then find the best provider for their needs. He says that's necessary, in light of the findings of the recent mental health review.

“There are just too many cooks in the kitchen, there are too many funding streams,” he says.

“There are too many providers, and yet nobody ends up happy getting what they want.”

A national service that assesses individuals, and then funds their treatment at the best provider, is Seymour’s preferred way to go.

He says that will clean up the current system, which he says, is a ‘bit of a mess’.