Labour leader Andrew Little's pledge to make small business a priority in the next two years has lifted the responsibility and workload for small business spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern who will set about putting flesh on the policy.
In his state of the nation speech in Auckland, Mr Little said small business - companies with fewer than 20 employees - was the "engine room" for job growth and he wanted to develop policies to help them grow.
He also pledged to return New Zealand's unemployment rate, at present 5.4 per cent, from ninth to the lowest in the OECD as it was nine years ago - but he didn't know when questioned what the rate was. (It's 3.4 per cent for South Korea.)
In another pledge to help start-ups, Mr Little said he wanted to see the New Zealand Superannuation Fund invest in promising start-ups.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
And he advanced the principle of businesses engaging constructively with unions to improve productivity and to share the gains.
Ms Ardern said she put up her hand for the small business portfolio when Mr Little was made leader in November.
She once worked on regulation for small business as an assistant director in Britain's Department for Business and Enterprise.
"I saw a lot of issues where Government could make a significance difference to the contribution they make to the economy."
Many of the businesses New Zealanders knew and loved were at some point a start-up "that we could really be generating more of if we focused on it a little bit more as Government".
Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Barnett welcomed the fact Mr Little had made two business-focused speeches in Auckland since becoming leader.
Mr Little yesterday spoke to a breakfast audience of business people, party activists and MPs at Auckland's Wynyard Quarter.