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Job stats out this week show how well Nelson and New Zealand is doing. We have record numbers of people in employment, growing businesses and incomes increasing at twice the rate of inflation.

We now have 47,000 jobs in Nelson and Tasman. That’s 10,000 more than a decade ago. The average income is up from $40,000 to $50,000 a year. The Nelson unemployment rate when National left office in October was just 2.2%, a number to remember as the new Government’s policies take effect.

Unemployment was 10% in Nelson when I first became an MP. We had over 6,000 people in local dole queues. These people were desperate for a job. The resulting poverty was awful.

Nelson’s unemployment is the lowest in New Zealand but our nationwide figures are also impressive. Job growth has averaged 10,000 per month for the last two years. That’s an additional 240,000 jobs. We have the third highest employment rate in the developed world. NZ’s unemployment rate of 4.5% compares to Australia at 5.5%, France at 9.8%, Spain at 17% and Greece at 21%. It is no wonder so many people are wanting to come here and far fewer New Zealanders are leaving.

My worry is the policy changes the new Government is making will slow job growth and take away the opportunity for people to get ahead. It is proposing to end the starting out wage available for the first six months of 16 and 17 year olds employment that enables them to get onto the first rung of the jobs ladder. They want to abolish the 90 days trial period for businesses with over 20 staff. They propose reintroducing 1970’s style industry wide awards that caused industrial unrest, low growth and high inflation.    

The Government needs to justify these major changes. International experience in countries like France shows these sorts of reforms slow growth and increase unemployment. It appears these law changes are a payoff for the Government’s union backers at the expense of the economy.

Already we are seeing businesses across New Zealand losing confidence as a result of these new Government policies.

It is making businesses more cautious of employing people, increasing the costs of goods and services for New Zealanders and undermining New Zealand’s competitiveness. 

National has launched a campaign called “Protect NZ Jobs” to fight these damaging law changes. Help us reduce the harm by going to www.protectnzjobs.co.nz

Nelson is growing strongly, enabling people to get jobs and get ahead. Let’s not do things that put this at risk.

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