COMMENT: Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon gives his take on business confidence.
A problem of perception
Many in the big corporate end of town would say it still looks very strong. If I look at Air NZ's future bookings we're seeing very strong underlying demand.
GDP of 1 per cent for the June quarter was pretty good and above expectations.
The cashflows out of the reporting season were very, very strong. If you look at cashflows of SMEs they're actually very good too.
You can't see a physical economic problem. But there clearly is a perception problem around business, and arguably starting to spread into consumer confidence.
There's probably three reasons for it. One is the Coalition dynamics are new and they are leading at times into confusion over who's actually in charge.
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For the business community, where they have been attacked personally in the way it has been through NZ First, who are Ministers of this Government, it has been discombobulating.
Because we've had 17 years under Helen Clark or John Key governments which has given us a really great platform and a foundation in place.
So, the anti-business Trumpian politics is something that we haven't been used to. If we respond to it, it just ends up undermining Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson. That needs to get sorted.
We need to stop the talking, less hui, more do-ey
There's no policy certainty or framework for people to try to navigate at the moment.
If I talk to SMEs, they say, 'If you think the 90 days law is going to be done, why don't you just do it and then we'll adjust to it.
If you're going to put in immigration constraints when I've got a skilled labour shortage in regional NZ, can you just tell me, so I have to know what I have to do.
At the moment I'm spending all my time trying to deal with all these things you're thinking about and I'm not actually out there winning in the market and building my business. We need to stop the talking, less hui, more do-ey.
Business will deal with what the Government decides to do. It may not like it. But it's very good at adjusting to what it has to deal with.
What it's not good for it is: "Do I invest that capital in that decision to grow my business, or, do I have to carry cover and wait for an increased input cost that's coming my way?" So, it's that sort of tension.
Lay an egg and get it done
It's a new Government and like any new leadership and any new organisation it's still trying to find its feet. Its got a leader who can talk the narrative very well.
But it has people who are very new to political management and the mechanisms of government.
In fairness there are people who are more socially and environmentally skilled. But there is little commercial experience.
The answer to that is what Helen Clark and Lianne Dalziel did.
They went out and they engaged in a very formal but structured and positive way with business across the whole country.
There has to be an intentional action to do that. The coalition dynamic is new after 17 years of stability. They just need to lay an egg and get it done.