Business and union leaders are confident that February's Job Summit will save jobs despite the collapse of one of its "big three" initiatives.
Prime Minister John Key said yesterday the banks had "pulled the pin" on the summit's proposed $2 billion equity fund, which was to have been co-sponsored by the banks and the Government to take shareholdings in struggling companies.
A banking industry source blamed the collapse on the Government, saying Treasury officials got cold feet over the risk that the scheme would have over-extended the banks when banking sector stability was crucial.
The other two big summit ideas are also producing less-than-dramatic results. Only three companies have taken a subsidy to save jobs by cutting back to a nine-day fortnight, and a proposed bike track from Cape Reinga to Bluff has become a network of smaller-scale bike tracks.
But Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall, who co-chaired a work stream at the summit, said there was still "an awful lot of work" going into group apprenticeships and other summit proposals, with some expected to be funded in the May 28 Budget.
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly, who co-chaired another work stream, said the banks' decision was disappointing, but she expected action in the Budget in areas such as more support for redundant workers.
"Do I think the Job Summit was a fizzer? No, I don't. I think it was important, and some of the stuff has been useful and will be useful," she said.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the nine-day fortnight scheme had saved 123 jobs - 60 at Fisher & Paykel's Auckland refrigeration plant, 57 at Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru and six at an unnamed manufacturing company.
The Summit deal, unveiled yesterday, will give the Japanese-owned wool spinners a taxpayer subsidy of about $325,000 on a promise that it will not make any more workers redundant in the next six months, even though it has just laid off 48.
Ms Bennett said a further 60 companies had approached Work and Income to find out how they could use the scheme.
Accountant John Shewan, who co-chaired another work stream, said he was working with officials on a further six initiatives:
* Fast-tracking regulatory approvals for major projects.
* Extending the export credit guarantee scheme to troubled businesses needing working capital for domestic production.
* Allowing more tax deductions for the costs of raising capital.
* New tax rules for employee share purchase schemes.
* New tax rules for immigrants starting new businesses here.
* Tax changes for managed funds and other portfolio investment entities to make foreign investment in New Zealand more attractive.
Mr Tindall said his Tindall Foundation was also making progress on a $1 million plan to encourage more Maori and Pacific education and training. "We are working mostly around education - a step-change in getting those ethnic groups educated to a higher degree so the talent is snapped up by employers."
* Nine-day fortnight
* National cycleway
* $2 billion equity fund
- additional reporting by Adam Bennett and Claire Trevett