Labour and National took a long time to finally put more details of their economic policies in front of the electorate.
When Labour released its personal tax hike package and National countered with temporary tax cuts, the Herald went back to the 165 chief executives and directors who responded to the Mood of the Boardroom 2020 Election survey for their views.
The 68 respondents rated National's economic policies at 3.42/5 and Labour at 2.44/5.
BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope said Labour's economic policy response to Covid has underpinned the economy in a challenging time. "However the long term plans are less well understood. They will need to do a hard sell.
"National's plans are slightly more pro-business. But both parties need to talk about how quantitative easing enables them to maximise a reduction in borrowing costs to help grow the economy."
A high-profile company chair was caustic: "Both parties are seriously lacking in any policies to give us confidence they can stimulate economic recovery by opening the borders safely. Just one example is the foreign students who are worth $5 billion — why are we not urgently investigating how we safely open our 'doors' to this economic activity with decent testing, tracking, tracing and private quarantine options?"
Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said the policy in general from both main parties was weak and uninspiring. "This is the perfect environment to be bold and adventurous."
Said a retailer: "National's policies are focused on stimulating the economy, allowing more freedom at the border and infrastructure improvements. There appears to be little in the way of support for low income workers. Through this difficult time Labour's policy around continued minimum wage growth will create significant challenges for business, which will result in further redundancies, as businesses look to find ways to mitigate this cost."
ICBC chair Don Brash — a former leader of both the National and Act parties — rated Labour's policy as poor because "it is proposing to substantially discourage employers from taking on more staff (a further significant increase in the already high — relative to the median wage — minimum wage, extra sick days, and the Matariki holiday), while its proposed changes to the RMA look likely to create still further bureaucracy and delays".
"National has a better policy on tax, is not proposing the disincentives to hiring which Labour is proposing and proposes to reintroduce the ability to end an employment contract within 90 days of its commencement. Its RMA reform proposals are also, I understand, more radical than those proposed by Labour."
The criticism was not one-way.
A high-profile chair predicted another three years of Labour Government.
"So what policies are enunciated now will probably not represent the moves they make once they are emboldened by a categorical win and a second term.
"I am dismayed by National's performance. This latest 'Goldsmith Gaffe' is evidence that the party has been reamed out of any real competence. To see how far it has fallen since Key resigned is heartbreaking."
A property management boss said they were astonished to be marking down National in favour of Labour. "It's like National have given up, published a policy aimed at their base and decided to give up on the rest of the electorate. I may be wrong, but I think they have misread the room (again). These are tax cuts nobody was asking for, and I think most of us know we got lucky and dodged an almighty cannonball.
"We had to lockdown because our health system is weak at the knees. We can't afford tax cuts that don't have a huge multiplier effect, and I don't think the electorate is in the mood to fall for such a cynical trick.
"I could well be wrong, but I guess we'll see in a month's time."
Among other comments:
● Have these parties really responded with policies to match a once in one hundred year event?
● I like Act's even better because it focuses on ridding waste and allocation of expenditure where there are demonstrable and measurable benefits.
● Both parties need to come out with more policies so not to surprise us once elected.
There was more in a similar vein with several survey respondents saying both parties lacked vision and neither were transformative.
*Scale: 1-5 where 1=poor and 5=excellent