National says it would introduce a “health and safety common-sense test” if elected, as part of its plan to slash red-tape burdening small businesses.

It will unveil the “first plank” in its five-point economic growth plan this morning, outlining how it will reduce regulation.

Leader Simon Bridges said the programme was about giving small businesses confidence and creating an economy “where it’s not just burden and cost”.

If elected, National said it would commit to a “bonfire on regulations”, doing away with two regulations for every new one introduced.

It would also scrap 100 regulations within the first six months.

Bridges said one of the key elements to be announced today is a health and safety common-sense test.

“This is not about compromising New Zealanders’ safety but it is about recognising what small business owners are telling us every day, that regulations are creating a lot of cost and burden in this area without the benefit,” he said.

Bridges said a significant part of this would be in housing.

“Where builders are questioning, for example, whether scaffolding is required on single-storey buildings, whether a saw-horse the builder has built requires engineering certification when we’re trusting them to build, often times, a million dollar home.

“But through to also just normal office environments where too many business owners are telling us it’s got beyond ridiculous when they need to list and identify hazards, such as the steam coming out of the kettle.

“Last year was our worst year in terms of fatalities since 2011 and so the cost and the compliance and the burden, isn’t necessarily making us any safer,” he said.

Four other areas of National’s economic plan still to be announced include tax relief, infrastructure, small business and families.

Bridges said they would be announced “in due course” and said the party had brought forward the timeline for these announcements due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

“Small businesses need to see the light at the end of the tunnel… what we see here is a very clear economic predicament where small businesses face the risk, and I’m hearing from a lot of them, of going out of business.

“We want to ensure that they keep going and they keep people in work. We also think that it’s really important though that the government consider what we did in the global financial crisis and Canterbury and Kaikōura and that’s effectively coming in with wage subsidies,” he said.

Bridges said National was still working through its tax relief package, and said this had become even more vital due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

He said a potential recession could affect the amount of tax relief the party would offer.

“Of course that’s a factor, but my simple view is this is more serious than the government understands or is letting on economically.

“Tax relief was always going to be significant but now we think through those complicated issues, and I accept they are about debt levels, about where the government books are at, where the overall economy is at, and the need for that economic stimulus that only government, not the Reserve Bank, not big business, can provide,” Bridges said.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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