We are proud to be a vocal, impassioned leader for our sector, having been in the corner of Kiwi hospitality businesses since 1972. At any one time, we have a variety of advocacy activities on the go, bringing real-world insight and rigour to the issues being considered by policymakers which affect our membership. Explore some of our activities, submissions and recent wins below.
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Advocacy 101 – what the RA lobbies for & how you can get involved
The Association advocates on anything and everything that may impact the hospitality sector. From Covid-19 subsidies, to how much you get charged per credit card transaction, or even immigration policies – we’ve advocated on your behalf on it all. Find out here about what Advocacy is and what the Association aims to achieve through our advocacy.
If you’d like to get involved yourself we encourage you to reach out to your local politicians and to Government Ministers, to help bolster our efforts. To do so you can use one of our letter templates available for download – the letters include the framework of a letter for you, with space for you to personalise and include your own story. Tailor and then address and email them to your local MP.
Submissions are an opportunity to present the views of our members and evidence we gather to Government, Parliament and Government agencies. We do this in both written and oral format to elected representatives and officials. Submissions emphasise the Association’s standpoint on various issues and are a key advocacy tool when it comes to policy review or creation.
Recent Letters to Ministers
Climate Change Commission’s 2021 Draft Advice for Consultation
This submission was compiled in March 2021 following a nationwide survey of our Association members. The Restaurant Association supports the calls of He Pou a Rangi – the Climate Change Commission – to create a thriving, climate resilient, low emissions Aotearoa. In particular, we support the Commissioner’s sentiment that all of us have a part to play and a contribution to make. However, we strongly oppose the recommendation to ban new gas or LPG connections by 2025 and “earlier if possible”, and we are disappointed by the seeming lack of consideration to the effects that this change will have on the landscape of the entire hospitality sector.
Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill Submission 2021
This submission to the Education and Workforce Committee was compiled in January 2021 following nationwide surveying of our Association members. While the Restaurant Association supports the Government’s desire to ensure all workplaces are “fair, safe and productive” spaces, we are unable to support the Bill in its current form. The Restaurant Association submits amendments to the legislation are required.
Minimum Wage Review 2020 Submission
This paper was compiled by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Minimum wage review in 2020. The information reflected in the paper is a compilation of feedback garnered by our members over the past few years, however it does not necessarily reflect all members’ views.
Restaurant Association Election Manifesto 2020
The single most important issue for the hospitality industry is the sector’s recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Restaurant Association is calling on the Government to work collaboratively to create a concise pathway for rebuilding and repositioning the sector for the future. Our 2020 Election Manifesto sets out five key priorities to best support the recovery of our sector and to ensure government policy matches the realities faced by everyday hospitality operators.
Covid Support Payment (CSP) confirmed and date comparator criteria updated
The Association has been advocating for additional financial support for hospitality and welcomed the announcement of the Covid Support Payment. The Association then challenged the eligibility criteria for the CSP subsidy and brought to the Government’s attention that the proposed date comparison was inappropriate for our industry as it compared to a period that is seasonally quiet and revenue was already significantly affected. Through our engagement with the Minister of Finance’s office, Treasury and in collaboration with other business organisations, our concerns were heard with the announcement of a change to the date criteria.
We know the change (adding a comparison to 2021) will not provide every business with the ability to access the support. We would have preferred the date comparator to be compared to a ‘normal trading period’ as this would mean many more members would be able to access help. However, this is a compromise and feedback from members has been that it does mean more are now eligible than before, particularly with having the two date options to consider when assessing the 7 consecutive days of revenue decline.
Red level settings updated to allow takeaway under retail settings
In December 2021 the Association questioned the requirements for those businesses that intended to operate under the traffic light framework without requiring customers to present a My Vaccine Pass (ie contactless takeaway only). The government had informed industry that employees would still need to be vaccinated even if you intended to operate contactless takeaways. As a result of our pressure, DPMC, MOH, and MBIE updated their advice and if a business intends to operate for takeaways only, the business will operate under the retail rules, as the public health risk profile is similar. This has 2 very important implications for takeaway businesses:
- if you are solely takeaway, staff do not fall under the vaccine mandate
- if you opt to not ask for vaccine passes, you can operate as takeaway, rather than contactlessly (AL3 style). You won’t be able to provide seating, but customers will be able to come inside for ordering and pick up.
Auckland Council announces changes to recognise challenges for hospitality
In September the Association wrote to Mayor Phil Goff and met with Auckland Council representatives, requesting Auckland Council provide targeted assistance for Auckland hospitality businesses, including extending licence expiry dates, fast tracking outdoor dining applications, extending outdoor spaces. This resulted in changes being announced to recognise Auckland’s challenges.
Immigration settings change direct result of #LightsOut
After months of advocacy, and collective action on this issue, the government decided it will provide relief to many hospitality operators, who have battled 18 months of uncertainty.
We’re pleased the Government has listened to our concerns and acknowledged the pressures felt by businesses across the country, while COVID border restrictions remain in place. The extension will give many of our businesses some breathing space, affecting almost 10,000 workers in the hospitality sector, while we build our future workforce.
The changes announced include:
- From 19 July 2021, the maximum duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid below the median wage ($27.00), will increase from 12 months to 24 months.
- The application process for Essential Skills visas will also be simplified for migrant workers remaining in their current roles:
- Employers won’t be required to complete a labour market test where a worker is applying for a visa renewal for a role they are already holding.
- These applicants also won’t need to provide medical and police certificates to Immigration New Zealand if that information has been supplied previously.
- Note, a labour market test will still be required where employers are filling a job vacancy.
- In addition, the new Accredited Employer Work Visa, which was due to come into effect on 1 November 2021, will be delayed until the middle of next year (2022).
Wellington City Council – Parking Changes
Under the Wellington City Councils Long Term Plan, Fees & hours changes were proposed for central city parking. These changes included restricting parking to 2 hours before 10 pm, therefore making it difficult to enjoy dinner or attend a show or movie. The Restaurant Association and a collective of local business groups petitioned the Council to amend this change with an open letter. On 30 June 2021 the council voted not to adopt the change in parking time, which was a win for the organising group.
Regulating to reduce merchant service fees
For several years the Restaurant Association has advocated on the costs associated with credit card transactions. In February 2021 the Government began consultation and the Association welcomed the opportunity to make a submission on ‘Regulating to reduce Merchant Service Fees’. We support the Government’s appetite to regulate merchant fees and welcomed the announcement in May 2021 that a Retail Payments Systems Bill will be introduced later in 2021 to require reductions in interchange fees.
Changes to current Alert Level framework requirements
Our reliance on an alert level framework to guide us on the requirements for trading will be in place for the foreseeable future. Alert levels will still play an important part as we navigate through the coming months, which will introduce a roll-out of Covid-19 immunization and gradual reopening of our borders (starting with Australia and Pacific Island bubbles).
The Restaurant Association has proposed some robust alternatives to the current regime, addressing both operational and fiscal changes that can be implemented to help support the ongoing economic wellbeing of the hospitality industry. Our advocacy on this has resulted in an invitation by the government to discuss our perspectives on improving the current framework.
Wage subsidy criteria
The Association challenged the eligibility criteria for the wage subsidy and brought it to the Government’s attention. This has resulted in the requirements being changed to allow comparison to 2020 or 2019 turnover. This will result in many more affected business becoming eligible for this much needed support after the week long level change.
Through our work with the Ministry of Social Development, a new joint initiative has been launched in 2021 to fill the critical skills shortage in the hospitality industry. The Hospitality Springboard is a pilot initiative that will initially work with around 80 members to upskill and train their employees so businesses can retain staff and keep them employed.
The joint Government-sector initiative will bring employers and employees together to nurture current talent and encourage career development in hospitality. It will provide wellbeing support, wage supplements and wrap-around training, ranging from three to 24 months across a range of courses – from short entry-level courses to certifications such as Licence Controller Qualification, leadership training and up to 2 years NZQA Level Four courses, such as chefs training.
December 2020 Immigration Changes
Following extensive appeals to the Minister for Immigration, the Government made a welcome announcement in December 2020 that migrant workers in New Zealand would be able to stay and work here for longer, following adjustments to visa settings. Immigration New Zealand indicated it would contact all eligible visa holders.
Tautoko Hāpai Ō – Hospitality Workers Support
Following support from the Government’s COVID-19 Workers and Workplaces Assistance Fund, the Restaurant Association launched a worker support service at the end of 2020 named Tautoko Hāpai Ō – Hospitality Workers Support initiative.
The service ensures hospitality workers are able to access support through an online resource portal, as well as employment opportunities and specialised advice. The service also aims to support apprentices who have been displaced due to COVID-19, and help them reconnect to employment within hospitality.
Future of Hospitality Roadmap
One area of key strategic focus for the Restaurant Association continues to be the Future of Hospitality Roadmap which was implemented in 2021. Through the Roadmap we will work collaboratively with different parts of our sector and the Government to create a concise pathway for rebuilding and repositioning the sector for the future. The Roadmap sets out our action plan for the industry for the next three years.
Leading a hospitality RESET
The hospitality sector is in the midst of a skill shortage at levels never seen before. With 92 per cent of members saying it is difficult to recruit for mid to senior skill-level positions, coupled with the recently announced Immigration Reset, there is considerable concern regarding the future of hospitality’s valuable migrant workforce. The Restaurant Association is calling on policy makers to work with the sector to ensure immigration changes are practicable and provide workable solutions.
“Dine out to Help out” Parliamentary Petition
The Restaurant Association launched a nationwide petition in August 2020 calling on the Government to adopt a dining scheme similar to the UK’s “Eat Out to Help Out” initiative, to assist our battling hospitality industry which has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition has been referred to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee for review, with the Association providing a formal submission for the Committee’s interrogation in February 2021. In May 2021, CEO, Marisa Bidois, was asked to present to the Select Committee.
Hospitality Recovery Taskforce
Spearheaded by the Restaurant Association, the Hospitality Recovery Taskforce comprises a diverse group of people with expertise from all facets of the hospitality sector to provide leadership and guidance to the hospitality community throughout the COVID-19 recovery period.
Meeting regularly, the Taskforce collaborates and helps to guide the direction and decision making of the Restaurant Association, driving projects and lobbying as the sector continues to recover.
Te Ao Māori
In an effort to demonstrate our commitment to Te Tiriti o te Waitangi, the Restaurant Association of New Zealand actively seeks to engage and build partnerships with kaupapa Māori organisations across hospitality and tourism, to help strengthen Māori representation and bolster that which is truly unique to hospitality in Aotearoa: manaakitanga.
NZ Māori Tourism
Māori leading Aotearoa New Zealand visitor experiences – Mā te pūkenga Māori te wheako Māori i Aotearoa nei, e ārahi. New Zealand Māori Tourism (NZMT) is committed to working with the Māori tourism sector to contribute to our economy, to provide compelling visitor experiences, and to build a strong commercial and cultural leadership. NZMT supports leaders and partnerships that generate value in the Māori and wider tourism sector to create opportunity and ensure the growth and quality of Māori tourism experiences. Visit the Maori Tourism website here