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Auckland Business Leaders respond positively to latest dialogue with Prime Minister

Press release
Friday 26 Nov 2021

Business and sector groups representing thousands of small to medium businesses across the Auckland Region, met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday in downtown Auckland in an ongoing discussion with Government about supporting businesses and setting a path for recovery.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Heart of the City CEO Viv Beck said “Over recent weeks we have seen action on a number of recommendations we made to Government in October for an Auckland business support package.  While there are areas of concern that the group continues to raise, we welcome the constructive exchange.  A highlight of yesterday’s meeting was an open door to creating innovative solutions to support the return of people to Auckland who can boost our recovery when the domestic boundary and international borders open.  We also had clarification that there is no requirement to work from home in the red alert level.  This is very good news – for example with more than 130,000 workers in the city centre, it would have been catastrophic if they continued to work from home after 3 December.”

The Auckland Business Leaders group includes the Auckland Business Chamber, Business Events Industry Aotearoa, Employers & Manufacturers Association, Heart of the City, Hospitality New Zealand (including Accommodation Association New Zealand), Restaurant Association, Retail New Zealand, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Whāriki - Māori Business Network, the Pacific Business Trust, Amotai, Auckland Unlimited, Franchise Association NZ and Real Estate Institute NZ.

EMA CEO Brett O’Riley said there was also a good discussion with the Prime Minister on the challenges of operating in the traffic light system from December 3rd. “We reviewed the announcements about rapid antigen testing and the importance of multiple test options and explored issues with vaccination passes and flexible options for dealing with customers. The introduction of self-isolation and the challenges with the international border, despite the announcements on opening dates, were other important issues that were canvassed,” said O’Riley.

Further financial support for Auckland businesses was another key item on the agenda, including the challenges of dealing with different industries and different parts of Auckland where the impacts vary. 

Viv Beck said “Ongoing targeted financial support remains a key area of focus for the group and we will be making further representations on this.  Auckland has been hit much harder than the rest of the country over the last 23 months and our city centre has had the toughest impact of all, with a loss of more than $300M in consumer spending for this lockdown alone.   A few weeks of trading ahead will not give a sufficient boost to businesses sitting on a knife-edge heading into a shortened Christmas season.”

The group will continue to liaise with Government on the following areas:

  • A swift move out of the red traffic light
  • Targeted financial support through until the green traffic light
  • Access to low-cost, easy-to-repay money
  • An activation fund to stimulate the economy and support local businesses
  • International border opening dates and self-isolation requirements, along with innovative solutions to bring people back to Auckland who can boost recovery will be explored
  • Legislation to enable alcohol to be served outdoors.