The majority of NZ businesses are prepared to pay a living wage in the near future, while the community remains split on immigration policy, according to survey findings released today.

The Deloitte BusinessNZ Election Survey, which covers 575 businesses of all sizes across all sectors, showed that the business community is relatively satisfied with current policies for economic growth and international trade.

Most business were against increasing the top rate of tax and the introduction of capital gains tax. 76 per cent of respondents did not want an increase in top tax rates, but 66 per cent said they would support an increase if it was spent on transport infrastructure and 55 per cent would support an increase if it were spent on social investment.

Sentiment on immigration policy was split with 28 per cent saying too many are being let in, 19 per cent saying not enough were being let in, and 33 per cent saying the balance is about right.


Regional development emerged as a key issue with 77 per cent of respondents saying they want a regional economic development plan.

Half of the respondents said they wanted the Government to provide incentives for cleaner production and resource efficiency.

On employment issues, 69 per cent of said they do not agree with the focus on collective bargaining in the Employment Relations Act, but 91 per cent said they would be prepared to pay a living wage (roughly $20 per hour) in the near future.

Another key issue was the lack of access to skilled staff, with 61 per cent saying they were unhappy with the skills of young people coming out of the education system.

"New Zealand's positive GDP performance is good for business and employment growth, but it's also a stress factor," said BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope.

"Many businesses can't fill job vacancies and want to see more better-skilled New Zealanders coming out of the education system. Positive economic growth has also brought strains on transport and other infrastructure and on planning processes that are felt acutely by business. They want to see better local government decision-making and an improved RMA. Businesses want policies that help them take advantage of the growth environment," Hope said.

Deloitte chief executive Thomas Pippos said the results showed the business community was softening its views around a number of social issues.

"Businesses surveyed seem open to change on some social issues. A majority of those surveyed say the conditions that led to Brexit, Trump and the rise of populism in Europe are becoming an issue in New Zealand," Pippos said.

"More respondents also say socio-economic wellbeing is a key indicator of economic performance than at the last election. And a number of business leaders indicated that they would support an increase in taxation if those funds were used to fund social investment. Finally, more employers also support a minimum wage set at a 'living wage' level than before. Overall we are seeing a greater sensitivity to the social environment and the role it plays in maintaining predicable policy settings that businesses like," Pippos said.