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Opposition questions quake support package

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/11/2016 Sean Martin

Government measures to help businesses in quake-stricken Kaikoura don't go far enough, opposition parties say.

The relief package, announced on Thursday, offers eight weeks of wage subsidies for seriously affected businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

It's designed to help them retain staff while they get back on their feet, and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says it could be extended.

Labour leader Andrew Little says it will have to be extended.

"Having visited Kaikoura, it's clear to me that the region faces an extended downturn," he said.

"Many businesses, particularly tourist operators, are facing a long, hard summer and possibly beyond."

Mr Little says the government shouldn't have limited the subsidy to eight weeks, and should have included medium-sized businesses.

NZ First leader Winston Peters says the government doesn't know how regional New Zealand works.

"Regional economies run on a few large businesses and many, many small businesses," he said.

"The relief package should be for them all."

He says all businesses rely on turnover to survive, and it's not fair to expect the big ones to get through without help.

"Everyone takes a hit... the issue is whether there's any business left to conduct."

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