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Expanded relief package needed

The Kaikoura earthquake relief package is good as far as it goes, but it’s clear more will be needed, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. 

“This is a necessary and essential first step and will go some way to relieving the anxiety employees are facing in these areas. But businesses face a very challenging time ahead of what should be their busiest time of the year. 

“Having visited Kaikoura, it’s clear to me that the region faces an extended downturn given the scale of the efforts that will be required to rebuild critical infrastructure. 

“The Government therefore should not have limited the package to an initial eight weeks of wages support only. Many businesses, particularly tourist operators, are facing a long, hard summer and possibly beyond and they too will need support of some kind to get back on their feet. 

“Labour is concerned that the Government has limited the package to small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. There are staff of affected medium-sized businesses who could also benefit from this assistance. 

“I urge the Government to also consider extending wage support for local councils to help them employ workers, who will miss out on potential seasonal work, supporting the rebuild and recovery efforts. 

“There are many businesses outside the immediately affected area which will also be affected by a drop off in trade so the Government should ensure those businesses are also able to apply for support,” says Andrew Little.