CEO comment 26 August 2020

26 August 2020

Virginia webWe hosted the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson in Invercargill on Monday. The Minister shared with us his insights into the job ahead for our economic recovery, and also spoke about the future of Tiwai Aluminium Smelter.

At this meeting we continued to advocate for an extension to the closure of the Tiwai Aluminium Smelter. Unless a new supply agreement with a realistic electricity price is negotiated in the next few weeks the smelter will close in August 2021. This will cost not only the 1,000 jobs at the smelter, but also another 1,600 jobs which the smelter supports indirectly. It’s not difficult to imagine how this would be an economic disaster for Southland particularly in our post-covid economy. A longer timeframe will give us time to develop alternative employment options. You can read my opinion piece here.

If you would like to see the Ministers speech and Q & A, you can see our recording here.

On Monday it was announced that from Sunday 30th August at 11.59 pm, Auckland will move to Alert Level 2, and the rest of New Zealand will remain at Level 2 until a review on Sunday 6 September.

We would also like to see changes to the processes if we have a future regional outbreak.  In the Auckland region during alert level 3, the processes have cost businesses and employees time and money when they can least afford it.  An update on this and discussion with BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope is available here.

As we move through the different alert levels, we are advocating for a better approach that is risk based and centred on the ability to operate in a covid safe way, using the occupational health and safety framework, coupled with better traceability and border management.  We think the definition of essential services should be dropped, instead focusing on the ability to operate safely.

We welcome the extension to the wage subsidy – and you can find out more here on the resurgence wage subsidy.

Contact tracing is mandatory for all businesses under alert levels 2 and 3.  If you need to download your contact tracing QR code – you can do this here.

The Prime Minister delayed her business breakfast presentation in Dunedin this week, due to the changes in the Covid-19 alert levels.  We will keep you informed when the PM is able to come back to talk with business in our region.

As always any feedback is welcome.

Ngā mihi nui \ with kind regards,


Virginia Nicholls | CEO |

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