Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

PoliticsOctober 10, 2023

Election 2023: The small business policies in two minutes

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Voting is under way, so here’s a two-minute version of what’s on offer for small businesses. To explore the parties’ offerings in more depth, check out

See more from our policy in two minutes series here.

Small and micro businesses have long been considered the bread and butter of New Zealand’s economy, representing 97% of all firms. While elsewhere under 50 employees is considered small, here it’s defined as under 20. Even with this categorisation, we have a high percentage of small businesses compared to other countries. They provide 29.3% of employment, contribute over a quarter of our gross domestic product, and are found across industries. 

The success of small businesses is vital to the sustainability and growth of the economy as well as the wellbeing of their owners and employees. They received support through the Covid-19 pandemic, but are now facing an economy scraping recession, a cost of living crisis, inflation, and the major parties agreeing on the need for restraint. Here are some of the policies on offer to them.

Training support

Labour would support small businesses to digitise, through existing programmes like online learning platform Digital Boost and Business Connect, which aims to streamline permit and licence applications. They would develop and trial a mentorship programme for women on low and middle incomes who want to start a small business. The scholarships would be funded partly by the Ministry for Women and MBIE, and would also seek private sector sponsorship for ongoing mentorship and support. 


The Green Party and Te Pāti Māori would raise the corporate tax rate to 33%, which was its level in 2008. The Greens say this would raise $2.4bn in revenue during the 2024-2025 financial year. 

Both Labour and National want to remove depreciation tax write-offs from commercial buildings, which was introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic response. Labour says it is now time to fund other policies. National estimates this change would generate $525m in revenue on average per year.

Labour would retain the tax rebate for business research and development. National would reverse what it calls the “app tax” due to come into effect in April 2024, which would impose GST on services delivered by digital platforms like Airbnb and Uber, even when individual sellers are making less than $60,000. National would consider changing tax rules for startups, which often pay employees with shares in the business. The party says unrealised gains are taxed.

The Act Party would end tax exemptions for charity-owned companies that do not solely exist for charitable purposes. 


Labour would provide $100 million in venture capital for agritech businesses and continue funding the Horticulture Technology Catalyst.

Labour would invest a further $300 million in NZ Green Investment Finance, set climate change as a research and development priority, and establish climate innovation platforms designed to help businesses absorb climate innovation.

National would stop support for companies’ emissions-reductions projects, saying this undermines the emissions trading scheme. They would create a $5m fund for promoting regional tourism events outside of traditional destinations.

Te Pāti Māori would support the creation of Māori supermarket chains, acquiring land and providing seed funding.

Act would end various business support programmes including the Provincial Growth Fund, Callaghan Innovation, domestic and international film subsidies, growth and development spending and Industry Transformation Plans. Act would halt government contributions to the Venture Capital Fund, which invests in firms that support early-stage tech companies.

The Green Party would instruct government departments to prioritise buying goods and services from New Zealand businesses. They would support the development of local food economies with funding for community-supported agriculture

Employment incentives

Labour would continue the Apprenticeship Boost scheme and continue to support Regional Skills Leadership Groups to identify skills and workforce needs now and in the future.

National would abolish median wage requirements for work visas, saying they have made it harder for tourism and hospitality operators affected by worker shortages. They would also raise the upper age limit to apply for a working holiday visa from 30 to 35 and would allow people to apply for a second or third working holiday visa if they worked in areas with worker shortages, such as tourism. National would also relax rules for employers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, so that employers would not have to pay a minimum of 30 hours a week, but instead an average of 30 hours a week for the contracted period. It would also allow workers to consider other accommodation options.

The Greens would implement the recommendations from the Holidays Act Taskforce, including additional leave and clear, transparent methods to calculate it.

Act would remove the January 2 public holiday to “help small business absorb the cost of Matariki”. They would abolish fair pay agreements

Regulation and compliance

National would simplify verification protocols for businesses that need to comply with anti-money laundering requirements, saying too much regulation is making it hard for businesses to grow. National would repeal the Conduct of Financial Institutions Act, which is meant to manage financial misconduct, but they say it imposes additional burdens on lenders. They would also reverse changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act, which were intended to control predatory lenders, but they say have made it more difficult to access credit. 

National would require DOC to make concession decisions for businesses within one year and grant them for a minimum period of five years with a right of renewal. They say the concessions system for tourism is cumbersome, and creates uncertainty for tourism operators.

National would reduce duplication of information requests from government to primary industries, which would apply to farmers and forestry, and would limit the ability to convert farmland to exotic forestry, saying it’s resulting in the loss of valuable agricultural land.

The Greens would strengthen laws that protect against anti-competitive practices, and would provide more resources to the Commerce Commission for effective oversight. They would implement right-to-repair laws for consumer products and implement more regulation on fisheries, including banning bottom trawling and dredging by 2028, and requiring cameras on all commercial fishing vessels

Act would abolish the significant natural areas policy, which it says undermines private property rights and the efforts of farmers. They would abolish tariffs on imports, saying these reduce competition.

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