Wednesday, 17th April, 2019

Last month I completed our submission to MBIE on Regional Workforce Planning. With Rebecca (our office manager) on leave, I went to publish this submission myself on our website. Forty-five painful minutes later the task was still not done, the website content management system had me beat. Another staff member helped, after another thirty minutes we finished our task. A total of seventy-five minutes.

Rebecca now back from leave, has just uploaded our QLDC Annual Plan submission to the QLDC website and published it on the Chamber website in less than five minutes, a full seventy minutes faster than our efforts last month.

My laboured tale of website publishing woe serves to remind us that the impact of our labour shortages are a significant contributor to productivity decline. Businesses who have unfilled roles will not do as well, their staff are likely to be more tired and their customers more dissatisfied. Any reduction in wages will be offset by multiple types of opportunity losses.

It’s worth reminding ourselves what productivity is, a measurement of the average outputs of the business, divided by the total inputs (or resources used). Put more simply, it’s making the most of what we use. It’s the core of sustainable thinking and its application in business.

In New Zealand our productivity growth (as a percentage of GDP per filled job) is getting worse, dropping by - 0.7% between 2017 and 2018 (according to Infometrics).

As a result of these ongoing concerns I have started working with the economic development team at QLDC to quantify the size of the labour force gap (using trending, rather than snapshots) and the economic impact of this gap on the businesses operating in Queenstown. The Chamber and QLDC will use this information to shape and direct responses to these challenges.

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I know it’s stupid, but …

It’s not just lack of housing or migrants that make doing business in Queenstown (or New Zealand) harder than it needs to be. I am developing an allergy to sentences starting with “I know it’s stupid, but”. Collectively we need to start rejecting systems that we know make us unproductive.

Two examples I have come across in my travels this month.

“Yes, we know it’s stupid that your employee immigration request is being slowed because the ANZSCO codes aren’t granular enough to classify a restaurant duty manager adequately” and “Yes, I know it’s stupid you need to get another engineer for the new driveway, after two have already been on site, but that’s what we are required to do”.

You probably have some “Yes, I know it’s stupid” processes in your business too. Why not have a crack at getting rid of one this month?

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The rubber, the road and the LVL

I am looking forward to getting an update from QLDC on how the LVL will be applied soon. The Chamber has consistently supported targeted taxation to support infrastructure improvements in the Queenstown Lakes area. In a QLDC press release Jim Boult has announced that the levy is likely to be applied to overnight accommodation at a rate of 5 to 10%. However, the exact mechanism, amount, scope and method of collection has yet to be disclosed by either central or local government.

The Chamber acknowledges the concern of our members in the accommodation sector who feel that application of this targeted tax may impact negatively on demand for their products and services. We also accept that pricing for accommodation is highly dynamic, complex and competitive. Multiple agencies may be involved in an accommodation sale and pricing may include bundles with other activities and/or services as well.

Given this complexity, the Chamber will be interested in the evidence in support of the approach favoured by the tax designers. We also will urge QLDC and the IRD to work closely with businesses who will be required to collect this tax to ensure that the dead weight cost of collection is minimised and no business, nor consumer are treated unfairly.

Additionally we are interested in the proposed local and central governance and review structures of the targeted tax.

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But if all this is too much

If all these internal challenges are getting too much for you and it might be time to put your feet up, then our succession planning workshops on the 1st May might be just the ticket. Click here to find our more.

Wishing you all a very pleasant Easter. If you are trading, may your tills ring long and loud.

Kind regards
Anna Mickell