National leader Todd Muller is urging the Government to adopt his cash-for-jobs policy as part of its response to Covid-19.
Announced yesterday, the policy would give $10,000 to businesses for each hire that they made. It would come into force in November if National won the general election.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said he is prepared to consider the JobStart policy, while adding the Government focus is on keeping people in work and creating new jobs now - not in November.
Muller said today the proposal could be introduced "within weeks" if the Government picked it up. He has asked him for a meeting to discuss it further.
"As the Minister, Mr Robertson can direct officials to fine-tune the policy and implement the administrative details to get this up and running immediately," he said.
The minister was unavailable this evening and could not confirm whether he would accept the invitation. His office referred to comments Robertson made yesterdayRobertson said JobStart was not new and similar schemes had been introduced after the Global Financial Crisis in New Zealand. He also raised concerns about parts of the policy.
"For example, the idea that you could get $5000 and then sack someone after 90 days, you'd want to be careful about that."
Under National's policy, companies would be paid $5000 when the new employee was hired and a further $5000 after the new hire had been employed for 90 days.
Robertson also said the Government would want to make sure that such a scheme was creating genuinely sustainable jobs rather than simply shifting people between workplaces.
"But ... we welcome constructive ideas that are about getting people into work."
National's policy was capped at $500 million, meaning it could create up to 50,000 jobs.
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Figures released by Statistics New Zealand this week showed the number of jobs fell by a record 37,000 or 1.7 per cent in April alone, the biggest monthly fall in percentage terms in 20 years, when the measurement was established.
Since New Zealand went into lockdown, 43,810 have applied for the Jobseeker benefit. That rate has slowed drastically in recent weeks, with fewer than 400 applying in the week to May 22 - down from around 1000 a day at the peak of lockdown.
This does not show the full picture of joblessness from Covid-19, because some people out of work cannot get a benefit if their partners are working.
Herald analysis shows more than 14,000 people have lost their jobs from several major New Zealand companies.
There have been a number of high profile announcements from major companies about widespread job losses, with 3500 at Air New Zealand, 1000 at Fletcher Building, more than 910 at Millennium & Copthorne Hotels. Auckland Council cut 1100 temporary and contractor staff.
Although unemployment was only 4.2 per cent at the end of March, the figure now is likely to be significantly higher, with expectations that it could hit 10 per cent this year.