The Herald asked survey respondents what they saw as the top issues facing the nation — and how they would resolve them. Here's just some of their responses:
●An incompetent inexperienced and naive
Government that appear to be drunk on power and prepared to compromise what is right for the country in favour of political popularity. Foreign policy clumsiness, centralisation, ill considered policies and decisions — flip/flop on the cycle bridge as a well-publicised example. Apparent reluctance to engage with business, economists, experts when considering policy choices.
●Housing availability and prices. Encourage investors to build houses Incentivise the housing supply through tax incentives for new home investors. Private investors will always build houses more efficiently than the public sector. Incentivise them to get on with it.
Requires a strong supply side response. Would be good to have up in lights a line- by-line cost comparison of building a house in New Zealand vs Australia. Where are we paying too much — be transparent, do something about it.
● Labour shortages. Completely unacceptable for fruit to be rotting because there are insufficient workforce willing to pick, market gardeners selling out because they can no longer get crops picked. Restricting migrant workers won't drive redundant airline pilots into picking apples or asparagus, it will drive businesses broke. Farmers are short of workers. This equals massive stress. Not everyone in NZ is willing or well suited to working on a farm — Filipinos are and they value working in NZ but they can't join us. Many of those who are here are leaving because they haven't seen their families for up to two years — they can't get back here once they leave. Immigration policy is a mess.
●Shifting the Covid management strategy from elimination to active management. Invest in healthcare system, tools, technology and much better governance
●Immigration settings: overhaul immigration approach and aggressively clear the backlog. Improve governance.
●Increasingly inward-focused approach from the Government that seems to have forgotten that for our country to prosper we must trade with the world. To do that we need future focused policies on the flows of people, trade, capital, ideas. Right now it feels like we are regressing.
● Targets for vaccination. A clear plan for opening up to the world including restarting key sectors — tourism, hospo, etc.
●Addressing skill shortages. Opening up to targeted immigration as part of the plan.
●Managing inflation, without triggering a house price collapse.
●The Government doesn't have the capability (experience) to manage through the current complex environment. Not sure this can be solved in the short to medium term, but CEOs need to step up to fill the void and create the future in many instances — not just sit back and wait for the Government to step in.
●The chronic skills shortage, right across the board but particularly in high skills areas will have a massive impact of the ability of NZ to keep pace with the world — particularly if we still have a fortress mentality. Border settings need to change significantly.
●We lack any vision on infrastructure.We all know that we have a 30-year deficit and its an intergenerational issue. Post-Covid we need to open up investment from overseas parties. There's plenty of cash around.
●Housing — increase supply.
●Skills shortage: Immigration policy prevents execution of infrastructure, housing build. NZ simply doesn't have enough skilled people. Open the borders to these people and their families.
●Naive government policies, such as the collective agreements and increase in student living allowance (immediately swallowed by landlords).
Commercial Real Estate boss
●Political leadership. Change the Government.
●Civil service hollowed out and politicised. Reinstate an independent and competent civil service — professionally-led and made to be a career of choice.
●A dependency culture and the deterioration of self-reliance and independent thought.
●Solving the Covid crisis. We need international tourism.
●Current skill shortages — likelihood of brain drain if other economies, especially if Australia starts to outperform NZ.
●A properly functioning Opposition to hold this Government to account
Consulting firm boss
●Isolation due to Covid response. Set a target immunisation level that will allow boarders to reopen and abandon elimination policy.
●Openness of Government to accept solutions from outside its own resources. Be open to accepting help from capable professionals in business and social sectors — ask for help, accept it and act on it rapidly.
●Growth of a generation dependent on social support — with all of the social, mental health and general wellbeing issues that come with that. Create affordable, quality rental housing with strong social connectivity with a pathway to
create sustainable generational wealth other than through home ownership.
●Global/NZ Covid response — NZ needs to move on from elimination approach once vaccine at appropriate levels.
●Border/visa settings — ease to assist with labour shortages.
●Housing affordability. Need to resolve the whole supply chain: RMA, labour, land release, infrastructure.
● Current and continuing threat of zoonotic diseases.
●Reliance on traditional agribusiness (red meat and dairy).
●Opening of borders which has to be addressed now in terms of vaccine rollout.
●Avoiding an Auckland/not Auckland divide — ensuring benefits and costs are fairly attributed.
●Lack of traction on innovation and R&D. Get policy and tax settings right, keep and attract talent.
●Covid economic impact — move swiftly to a 2 tier privilege system like Italy on "vaccinated vs not".
●Energy security — expand the "go-to" back-ups sourced locally whilst creating jobs.
●Divisiveness of policies: not inclusive/not together and creating societal divides should be avoided.
Professional firm CEO
●Covid management to minimise lockdowns. Vaccination rollout asap, stricter border control.
●Maintaining strong economy. Balance of Covid management and connectivity to global markets, ensure necessary skills/people available to maintain productivity.
●Growing equity gap. Intervention to ensure minimum standards are maintained, particularly around health and housing at lower socio-demographic and also a specific strategy to enable Māori and Pasifika to maintain minimum standards.
●Serious unaffordability of housing, which is the cause of much current social distress. Simplest solution is scrapping current restraints on urban development.
●Continuation of very poor growth in productivity (over many years). No one solution, but measures which would help includes: radically reformed RMA, freeing up of foreign investment rules (at least from OECD countries), and reduction of low skilled immigration.
●Rapidly increasing racial divisiveness (e.g. separate Māori Health Authority, Three Waters giving a veto to iwi over all decisions, proposals in He Puapua report, etc). Solution involves scrapping the notion that the Treaty of Waitangi created a "partnership", and reaffirming Article III of the Treaty
●Populist Political Policies by current Government.
●Lack of transparency into Government policy execution.
●Rise of street/gang crime due to lack of direction to police by Government.
●Elimination strategy for Covid was correct short term solution, but needed aggressive, early vaccination initiative. We now run the risk of being isolated, which means losing skills to other markets and not being able to replace them easily via immigration. Only solution is a vastly accelerated vaccination programme — with TARGETS!
●Skills shortage — anyone who suggests that the 4 per cent who are currently not employed are the solution to our staff shortages is out of touch. No clear immigration strategy, and MIQ bottlenecks, make it impossible to recruit staff offshore, and challenging to retain staff who have valid visas due to expire soon. Solution — a clear immigration policy that listens to the needs to business.
●Increasingly bloated and inefficient bureaucracy. More and more controls and administration being centralised to Wellington, which will slow decision-making and implementation.
●Lack of risk-based plan for Covid management at the border. Need a risk-based approach with accounts for vaccinations, risk of country exposure.
●Skills shortage — need exemptions for relevant skills, linked to a risk-based approach to opening border.
●Growing inequity — we need a more comprehensive long- term plan. Nothing is currently working.
●Blatant socialism, major policies implemented without consensus.
●Rise of two-tier Māori v Others rights, governance.
●Inept outcomes on housing, poverty, infrastructure, education, transport, social housing list growth = total failures.
Retirement living CEO
●Lockdown and its impact on businesses. We need to work out how to live with Covid and other pandemics which still allow people to work and live.
●Political "niceness" and lack of actual performance. Need to see results, or change power. The question is to who, and right now there is no real alternative.
●Immigration leading to labour shortages. Change the MIQ system, we need to let more people in.
●The Government's complete lack of understanding of policies on business. They have no personal experience in business, so they just don't know what they don't know.
●Energy scarcity undermining investment in manufacturing.
●Allow more immigration to fill roles urgently.
●More police needed with consequences for minor crime.
●Better funding for hospitals for staffing and resources.
●Prohibitive Immigration settings — relax them.
●Political flip-flops in public infrastructure. Act on Infrastructure Commission.
Commercial Property CEO
●Infrastructure underspend is our major issue. We need a 50 year+ plan, particularly for our urban areas and bi-partisan agreement on key projects.
●Income inequality and food security — need greater redistribution of wealth, particularly when those with assets have got richer and those without poorer. No one should go hungry in our country. Greater co-ordination of food redistribution would also help.
●Opening the borders. Need to put a deadline around vaccination and then just do it.
●Education. We have slipped horribly over the last 20 years and the quality of younger staff reflects this. Need to under do the reforms of the last 20 years.
●Getting rid of a Government that regulates from the hip and then tries to further regulate away the unintended consequences of the first ill-designed regulation.
●Skilled labour shortage. Ramp up MIQ capacity and relax immigration restrictions.
●Cost of housing (both buying and renting). Introduce capital gains tax and tilt investment incentives to more productive options.
●Rising Government debt + ageing population + high concentration of tax revenue from small base of taxpayers. Rein in unproductive Government expenditure (eg light rail to Auckland Airport) and increase superannuation age.
●Ineffectual Political Leadership resulting in slow or no action.
●Resilient National Infrastructure — revised framework for Shovel ready/Fast track.