Dunne post lifts optimism

By Adam Bennett

Business groups and fund managers have given the new coalition Government the thumbs-up, encouraged by the prospect of a Peter Dunne-led business tax review and limits to the extent of Green Party influence.

United Future leader Dunne was rewarded with the Revenue Minister's job in return for his party's confidence and supply support for the new Labour-led coalition Government.

Business Roundtable chief executive Roger Kerr welcomed the appointment.

"United Future's position has been to support moves to a comparatively flat tax structure, so we would hope Peter Dunne would have some influence."

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett was also pleased.

"He's had experience around revenue and he's likely to take a very businesslike approach."

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly said it was heartening that Dunne was talking about working closely with business on the tax review, but he sounded a note of caution.

"All that this Government is committed to is a review. That's a good start, but it's important to understand that's all that is."

Nevertheless, he said Business New Zealand was looking forward to "working constructively" with the new Government on the tax review.

United Future's election campaign tax policy included cutting company tax to 30c in the dollar, and a two-year tax holiday for new businesses as well as cancelling the carbon tax, and a push for withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol.

"All of that's on the table I suspect," said O'Reilly who, like Kerr, was particularly pleased with Dunne's plans for cost benefit analysis of the proposed carbon tax.

"He has said there's been not enough objective analysis on the impacts on business of a carbon tax. We absolutely agree with that."

Kerr said revisiting Kyoto was an important part of United Future's agreement with Labour.

"A complaint of ours is that the analytical foundations of the Government's approach to Kyoto have been weak."

Barnett said business would welcome the tax review, but was hopeful Dunne would review business compliance costs as well.

Meanwhile, business appeared relieved the Greens had not secured too much influence.

Fisher Funds Management chief investment officer Warren Couillault said that without the Greens there would be more moderate political influences around the cabinet table. "The net outcome is it's shifted slightly to the centre rather than lurching to the left with the Greens, and that's slightly positive.

"From a stability and uncertainty point of view there's no mandate there for any sort of non-mainstream legislation."

But O'Reilly said the Greens were still likely to have some influence in the new Government.

"Inevitably that's going to be the case. They were [influential] in the last Government, they will remain so."

He said Business New Zealand would be keeping an eye on the Greens, although he didn't see them as intrinsically anti-business.

He was looking forward to working with the new Government and the Greens on their Buy Kiwi Made campaign.

"It's important that those kinds of campaigns are done well for the benefit of New Zealand businesses and employees."

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