PM: Relief package for businesses on the way

Prime Minister John Key addresses business owners in Kaikoura

Listen to an excerpt of John Key’s address to Kaikoura business owners. Image: RNZ 

Prime Minister John Key has promised earthquake stricken businesses in North Canterbury a relief package to help them through the disaster.

Addressing an audience of hospitality, tourism and other business owners in Kaikoura yesterday, the Minister of Tourism said that the details of the package would be announced within 24-48 hours.

“We did something in Christchurch very quickly so we’re not going to muck around,” said Key. “It’ll probably be fairly similar I think, in nature, to what we did in Christchurch.”

The government provided financial support to affected employers and employees following the major quake in Christchurch in Feb 2011 to help them pay wages and bills

The package was made up of a support subsidy to help pay wages at $500 per week per employee plus a job loss component of $400 per week per employee for those out of work permanently. The package was to last for six weeks but was later extended to 11 weeks.

The system began operating six days after the February 22 earthquake, with $53m paid in the first week. By the end of June, 20,000 employers and 50,000 employees had received a combined total of $202m.

Key said ensuring overseas markets understood that New Zealand was still a very safe country to visit was vital to helping the tourist town recover.

“The only thing that worries me as Minister of Tourism is just that messaging for some markets are quite sensitive to earthquakes. They really do worry about the fact that there’s been earthquakes or they’re uncertain about whether they can go there.”

As soon as road connections were restored to Kaikoura the government would fund a publicity campaign promoting the region, sid Key.

“We can do [this] online and through a variety of things, just making sure people know ‘look you can still go to Kaikoura, it’s open, all the things are there, you’ll be fine’. We did that with Christchurch.”

Anyone requiring information and support should call the Government Helpline on 0800 779 997.

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