The Ardern government wants New Zealand to have the most digitally enabled small business sector in the world.
With that aim in mind, yesterday it announced a public-private partnership, grandly called the Digital Boost Alliance which involves 20 influential organisations. These are committed to support small business resilience and productivity, and enhance wellbeing and social inclusion via greater digital adoption.
Among them are Google, Facebook, Microsoft, HP and Amazon, five trading banks, Xero, MYOB, Zeald and Datacom, the Mindlab, CertNZ, Spark, Chorus and 2Degrees, the Warehouse Group and MBIE.
This means the government is partnering with some global giants that – a few years ago – it was planning to hit with a new tax.
At the time, we were told:
This is expected to bring in between $30-$80 million a year for the Government, depending on the tax’s design.
It comes as part of a wider global move, as various other OECD countries explore similar taxation options.
Ardern said highly digitalised companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading platforms, and online advertising, currently earned a significant income from New Zealand consumers without being liable for income tax.
“That is not fair, and we are determined to do something about it.”
More recently, Revenue Minister David Parker is reported to have said Google is not paying its fair share of taxes. He had
… slammed the internet giant’s reticence about a local tax being imposed on its New Zealand-derived revenues.
Ministers and their press secretaries are fond of the word “new”. Hence we are told a “new” public-private partnership has been launched to improve access to digital technology and training for small businesses, to take advantage of new opportunities through e-commerce.
Why would an old one be launched?
The Minister in this case is Small Business Minister Stuart Nash, who joined business, corporate and industry leaders to launch the 20-member Digital Boost Alliance at The Mind Lab in Auckland.
Buried down in the text is the information that the alliance includes multinationals such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, HP and Amazon, five trading banks, Xero, MYOB, Zeald and Datacom, the Mindlab, CertNZ, Spark, Chorus and 2Degrees, the Warehouse Group and MBIE.
They joined the Alliance by making a public commitment to support small businesses, workers or communities with free or discounted goods, services, advice or training in order to improve standards of living and wellbeing.
The government aims for New Zealand to have the most digitally enabled small business sector in the world.
The press statement placed greater emphasis on reminding us that last week’s Budget committed $44 million for digital training and advice.
“Today the private sector is coming on board to support small businesses to take advantage of the economic recovery,” Mr Nash said.
Impressive numbers have been injected into the statement: agencies such as Xero and NZIER estimate real GDP could increase between $3.5b and $6.2b if there was just a 20 per cent increase in the uptake of cloud computing alone.
“The Digital Boost Alliance involves twenty influential organisations who share the same goals and purpose – to support small business resilience and productivity, and enhance wellbeing and social inclusion via greater digital adoption.”
The global pandemic is still the country’s biggest threat
“ … but we are well placed to deal with its challenges through initiatives like increased digitalisation,” Mr Nash said.
New Zealand’s Quarantine Free Travel with Victoria has been paused while the source of infection of the five cases announced in Melbourne in recent days is investigated.
Victoria has put in place restrictions which came into force last night, limiting the size of gatherings and requiring the use of face coverings indoors, following confirmation of a fifth locally-acquired case of COVID-19.
The pause came into force from 7.59pm NZT and will be in place for 72 hours initially. As with previous pauses, it will be under constant review.
Information about locations of interest are provided on the Victoria Health website and are being updated regularly.
A Section 70 notice has been issued under the Health Act with a number of requirements for any person who has attended a location of interest. More information is available on the Ministry of Health website here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-response-planning/covid-19-epidemic-notice-and-orders
The regime introduced temporarily to protect New Zealand assets from falling unnecessarily into foreign ownership during the COVID pandemic will end on 7 June.
The emergency notification regime was introduced in mid-2020 as a precaution to minimise the risk that cornerstone businesses would be sold to overseas investors contrary to the national interest.
The temporary power was intended to protect Kiwi businesses from being snapped up and opportunities potentially lost as they recovered from the damage caused by the pandemic.
The repeal of the emergency notification regime will bring into place a narrower national security and public order call-in power. This allows screening of investments in strategically important businesses that do not normally require consent under the Overseas Investment Act, such as those involving the acquisition of military technology or critical national infrastructure.
The call-in power is part of the Government’s reform of overseas investment rules and adds to the changes to rules covering foreign purchases of housing and farmland.
More information can be found on the Overseas Investment Office’s website.
This one is a boast: new data shows New Zealanders are getting to hospital faster, thanks to the Government’s investment in the modernisation of in the country’s air ambulance service.
Government funding of $82.9 million in Budget 2018 enabled the replacement of single-engine helicopters with larger, safer and faster twin-engine machines and the expansion of the national Air Desk, which manages and co-ordinates the 24-hour seven-day service.
Data released yesterday by Health Minister Andrew Little shows the investment is benefiting patients.
In April this year, 89 per cent of emergency air ambulance helicopter missions took off within 10 minutes of being called to respond to a serious incident during the day, whereas two-and-a-half years ago, just 60 per cent of flights took off within 10 minutes.”
The average take-off time is now seven minutes.
Andrew Little said the quicker response times reflected a raft of improvements, including a more centrally coordinated system, better helicopters, improved clinical crewing and national monitoring of performance.
“Providing a faster and more comprehensive service, with two paramedics on board the helicopters and the ability to treat patients during flights, is particularly helping people in rural areas, where long distances mean getting urgent treatment quickly is critical.”
The Government is further boosting the air ambulance service, announcing in last week’s Budget it will increase the service’s funding by 10.8 per cent, with an extra $17.3 million of funding over four years.
It is also increasing funding for the road ambulance service by 8.1 per cent, with $83 million in extra funding over four years, made up of $51.6 million from Vote Health and $31.4 million from Vote Labour Market (ACC).
Emergency Road Ambulance Services respond to more than half a million incidents every year and are a key part of the New Zealand health system.