The Covid-19 pandemic is a public health crisis that is impacting many people's livelihoods. For this reason, Government policies are key to managing the immediate threats and leading New Zealanders through the recovery.
Next month's General Election provides a good opportunity for New Zealanders to reflect on our collective strategy to manage the threats and ignite the recovery.
The Tauranga Chamber of Commerce is hosting a debate with the local candidates before the Parliamentary elections in October. We will be livestreaming the debate for anyone to access via our Facebook page, thanks to event sponsor Forsyth Barr.
There are a tonne of issues raised by local businesses that I will be asking the local candidates.
For example, our border protection is the main way of keeping the community free from Covid-19, but we will need skilled and seasonal labour migrants to help local businesses rebuild the economy after the lockdowns.
A recent Auckland Business Chamber survey showed that half of those businesses are unlikely survive more than one additional alert level 3 lockdown. I fear a similar result if Bay of Plenty businesses were faced with rolling lockdowns in the future.
Is it time to re-visit our somewhat blunt elimination strategy?
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Closing the borders also showed just how far reaching the tourism industry benefited local communities. Does New Zealand need to reset our tourism strategy and what does that mean for international students who add more than $5 billion annually to the national economy?
New Zealand has ticked up significant debt levels in just a few months. Should we be paying off our debt sooner, or should the Government set stimulating tax and revenue policies to help keep more New Zealanders employed?
Every main party wants to change the Resource Management Act, but in a variety of ways. Many businesses would like the RMA changed so good decisions can be made within reasonable timeframes and costs.
Other local issues I will ask the candidates about include support for small businesses, traffic congestion, the rise of methamphetamine in our community, the cost and supply of housing, and managing the region's growth over the next few decades.
The debate will be fast-paced and will cover a lot of topics. Let's see how local issues will be represented in Parliament during a critical next three years.
• The Forsyth Barr & Tauranga Chamber of Commerce Parliamentary Election Candidates Forum is on Thursday, September 10 at 5.30pm.
Find out more about this free event on the Chamber website here.