Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the New Zealand government has continuously beaten the Support Local drum, banging it every chance they could get, reminding Kiwis to do their part for the good of the country.
Some of the recent actions by the government, however, speak a little louder than their words. If parliament wants to help local business, especially small/medium businesses (which make up 97 percent of Kiwi enterprises), it should listen to the locals it so desperately wants us to support.
Confusion over the wage-subsidy scheme, unclear restrictions for operation under Alert Levels, and bailouts that do not help those that need it most are not reflective of a government that understands Kiwi business.
Take the government's NZ COVID Tracer app as an example, full of teething problems since its release. The app requires Kiwis to download it voluntarily and for businesses to print unique QR codes to place at the entrance to stores. The problem with this is that not all stores/venues are using the government app, nor are all Kiwis.
Almost 250,000 Kiwis have downloaded the app so far. However, experts have said it needs at least a million downloads for the tracing to be effective. An early error message that appeared on Google Play's website probably stopped some people from downloading it. The fact that there were easier apps already available most likely stopped others.
An initiative from loadedreports.com, GuestHQ, is an online Check-In tool that has been live for months. Registration is free, and customers don't have to download an app, they simply scan the QR code provided to the business by GuestHQ on arrival and follow the prompts. Why was this initiative not adopted by the government?
Many of the Kiwis who have downloaded the NZ COVID Tracer app and tried to use it have found an Invalid QR Code message pop up: This code does not match the NZ COVID Tracer format. Why doesn't it? Surely consistency is critical in fighting a global pandemic, where is the consistency in how Kiwis should be tracing their contacts?
Hospitality business owners have been pulling their hair out at the government restrictions for Level 2 - most of the rules are unclear, and those that are clear are difficult to implement in small venues. They also have questions and concerns regarding government assistance and the wage-subsidy scheme that have yet to be answered.
Why is the government not talking and listening to the businesses it wishes to serve?
It wants Kiwis to support local and buy New Zealand made. Yet, a possible influx of cheap, frozen fries from Europe could decimate Kiwi potato farmers/processors; and its bailout of the media industry failed to consider independent Kiwi publishers and community journalism – the backbone of media in any country.
When will the government begin to align its actions with its words? Because until then, local Kiwi businesses, particularly small, family businesses, will continue to suffer. So much for #SupportLocal.
We'd love to know what you think, what's your opinion of the government’s support (or lack thereof) for Kiwi businesses? Click here to share your story.