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Todd Muller's first question to PM as Opposition leader focuses on Government's support for small businesses

Todd Muller took his opportunity as new Opposition leader today to question the Prime Minister over what the Government's doing to support small to medium businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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Mr Muller asked Jacinda Ardern if she accepted that "more direct cash support for small businesses will help prevent job losses?" Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after Mr Muller last night on TVNZ1's Q+A would not say if he would spend more or less on the Covid-19 crisis if he were in Government. 

Mr Muller said "we'd be spending money, I'm not going to quibble over more or less". 

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Today - in Mr Muller's first Question Time as National Party leader, he asked the Prime Minister if she accepted that "more direct cash support for small businesses will help prevent job losses?"

"I do accept that there is a role to play for Government, on that I agree," Jacinda Ardern answered. 

"We have of course placed a huge amount of emphasis on the wage subsidy, not least because small business have told us the difference it makes for them. 

"The wage subsidy scheme has put out over $5 billion directly into small businesses and it is the most significant part of the wage subsidy scheme. I would also add to the the work that's gone into tax carry back, loss carry back. 

"Alongside that we have the loan scheme, which has been well accessed by small business. 

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Mr Muller rolled former leader Simon Bridges last week. Source: Q+A

"That is just a handful of the initiatives we've put in place to help with cashflow for small businesses immediately."

Mr Muller asked the Prime Minister which proportion of small to medium businesses experienced negative cash flow. 

Ms Ardern said from interim results of the business survey, "well over 80 per cent have said the wage subsidy has made a difference to them keeping their doors open". 

"I can see that the member is advocating for straight grants, we made a deliberate decision that that wasn't where we were going. Instead, we have targeted through the wage subsidy, we have used interest free loans and we have worked very hard to support those businesses."

NZ First leader and deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters asked if Ms Ardern had "received any reports that the so-called throw cash at the problem $100,000 was announced by the previous leader of the National Party, whereupon they threw him out". 

The question was not allowed by the Speaker.  

Last night, Mr Muller said it was a "fact that this is a time in our history where money needs to be spent... but, (the Government is) not spending it in the right areas".

"They are more focused on people who have lost their jobs, which is understandable... but they are less focused on keeping businesses afloat."

Under former leader Simon Bridges, the National party proposed a $8 billion GST cash refund scheme for businesses that have lost over half of their revenue across two months due to the lockdown rules.