• John Luxton
Commerce and Industry

Minister of Commerce and Industry, Hon John Luxton, today slammed the comments made by Dr Alan Cameron of Massey University on the radio, who alleged the Government had little interest in small business.

"Dr Cameron is wrong wrong wrong! As Minister of Commerce and Industry I have a strong interest in our small businesses. They are not "unnoticed" or "unloved" as he alleges. Small and medium sized businesses are vital to our growth prospects and our future. They are the most dynamic engine behind growth. This Government certainly recognises that and is working hard to assist small and medium sized businesses, both directly and indirectly, to help make their lives easier.

"This year I disbanded the Manufacturing Advisory Group which only met in Wellington, in favour of a Regional Business Liaison Programme from one end of the country to the other. This was so that small business could have more direct input into Government policy. I know that small businesses don't have the time or money to fly to Wellington to talk about their concerns. I would have to say that this change has been extremely positive and successful, despite initial concerns expressed by some when I made the change.

"The comprehensive compliance and regulatory cost programme I announced back in June is focussed very much on the small and medium sized businesses. I know that someone who employs a few people just doesn't have the time and resources to meet easily all the compliance and regulatory requirements placed on them. I hope we can deliver something concrete and worthwhile as a result of this process so that they can grow, employ more people and make more profits.

"We are reducing tariffs and reviewing aspects of competition policy to ensure input costs are competitive for small businesses.

"My ministry is also working on a range of other initiatives to assist small and medium businesses. For example, a survey of manufacturing best practice was undertaken which talked to over 30% of all small and medium manufacturers in the country to find their strengths and weaknesses and help determine where Government can best assist them. A report is due later this year.

"The Commerce Select committee has announced that it will be conducting an inquiry into compliance costs. Small business is very much a part of their focus. More.. "Government also provides direct assistance through Business Development Boards, Tradenz, FoRST, the Department of Labour and the Employment Service.

"This Government is also working on an economic growth programme which will benefit small and medium sized businesses. As well as these initiatives, work is being done in other portfolio areas such as Energy, Transport, Local Government, Environment, which, along with the recent budget announcement of continuing fiscal restraint, asset sales and good government management, all assist small and medium businesses.

"Dr Cameron's book "ANZ Business Assistance Directory" states on page xiv of the introduction "While the nature of government assistance to SMEs has changed since 1984, the enterprise assistance scene does appear healthy, with central government being joined by a number of other partners from the private and voluntary sectors."

"This statement appears to be at some variance with his public statement today on radio that small business are "un-loved" and "un-wanted". Perhaps as the world is changing, we are just doing it differently than in the past.

"I look forward to the positive contribution Dr Cameron and his team can make to assisting the very important role that small and medium sized businesses make to our nation," Mr Luxton concluded.