Westpac New Zealand chief executive David McLean says business needs certainty from the next government.
McLean's comments echo those of Finance Minister Grant Robertson who says the country needs "stability and continuity" to rebuild New Zealand and to "make it better than it was" before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With 19 days until the election on October 17, McLean said the business community, and the wider country, needed "different thinking" and clear policies from government to ensure a swift economic recovery.
"In 2021 we will start to see the real economic effects flow through. How deep and how long that economic downturn is going to be is uncertain," McLean told the Herald following the Mood of the Boardroom breakfast event.
"Business generally needs certainty and this is a time when it is almost impossible to provide that. What business really wants is clear plans, and plans based on different scenarios. We don't know what's going to happen but if the government could tell us 'if this is sort of thing happens then we're likely to do that' then businesses can make up their own minds."
McLean said he was satisfied with the government's response to the pandemic, from both an economic and health standpoint. "You can quibble around the edges but overall I'd give [the government] a pretty good mark [for the Covid-19 response]."
He said businesses and government needed to use the disruption caused by the crisis to rethink practices and policies and use this to work collaboratively.
"We need the post-election government to work truly collaboratively with business, not just consulting with business, not just listening to or lobbying, but truly collaborating with the private sector, working together to give us the best outcomes."
Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope agreed - he said that business was looking for "certainty" and clarity from government policy, and the incoming government would need to work with the private sector more closely.
"What business leaders want is a much more directly-collaborative approach from the government. I think the current government hasn't done as much or as well in that as they could have," Hope told the Herald after the event.
"[Businesses] want to play a really strong role in rebuilding the New Zealand economy and they want the opportunity to be able to do that. Whoever the [new] government is, they will need to make sure that their doors are well open to enable a lot of that to happen."
"How to make money" was Hope's biggest concern for business over the next 12 months.
"The projects that have been earmarked they need to happen. Execution needs to be undertaken so that people can take up these jobs and money can start to flow through the economy. It's all very well to announce [plans] but actually the fiscal stimulus needs to be actual money in people's pockets."
Hope said the current government had done a good job of responding to Covid, but the incoming government needed to ensure stronger work around border policy.
During the Mood of the boardroom event this morning, Finance Minister Grant Robertson told the room of chief executives and business leaders that the country needed "stability, continuity and balance" to support the economic recovery.
"We want to rebuild New Zealand; better than it was, focused on modern infrastructure, productivity and improving our sustainability," Robertson said during his address.
He said the economy was performing better than expected following the hard level 4 lockdown, but warned there were still "tough times ahead".
Labour's 5-point economic plan would "create jobs, invest in people, support small businesses, position New Zealand globally and future-proof the economy", and was continuing to work on a travel bubble with Australia and trade agreements with Britain and Europe, he said.
"A vote for Labour is a vote for stability and certainty for your business."
In the June quarter, New Zealand officially tumbled into a recession, experiencing a 12.2 per cent contraction in GDP, combined with the 1.4 per cent fall in the March quarter - the country's biggest economic setback since records began.
Treasury predicts that 100,000 jobs could be lost over the next couple of years.
Opposition finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith said the Labour government had offered "no clear plan" for recovery "other than to borrow a lot of money and to spend it on very mixed quality schemes and plans over the next 12 months."
Goldsmith said under a National government it would be easier for firms to hire additional staff and get unemployed New Zealanders back to work, and it would prioritise infrastructure developments that would "enable the country to be more productive".
He said the country would "get back on its feet faster" under a National government.
"For us, the real driver of job creation is private sector investment and the recipe for that hasn't changed; it's about keeping taxes low, pushing back against the tide of regulation, about being consistent around the rules and policies, and allowing foreign investment."