No alarms and no surprises in middle-of-road State Budget
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) says Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s third and last Budget before the next State Election delivered few surprises or sweeteners for small business today.
CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy Kate Whittle said the Queensland business community had hoped to see a “Back to Business Budget”, but the Labor Government had not offered significant support.
“The Premier said 2017-18 State Budget was a budget for battlers and builders. CCIQ was certainly hoping to see a bigger boost for small businesses,” Ms Whittle said.
“While there were some measures that are welcomed, such as a funding commitment to Cross River Rail, overall this was a mostly steady-as-she-goes Budget from the Treasurer, perhaps with an eye to holding further financial commitments back to an upcoming election.”
Ms Whittle acknowledged government plans to deliver narrow surpluses over coming years, however, CCIQ was concerned at Queensland’s $81.1 billion total debt bill over the forward estimates.
“Coupled with stubbornly high unemployment (predicted to remain above 6 per cent) in addition to zero growth in business investment, CCIQ believes the government has not focused enough on debt reduction,” she said.
“We welcome no new taxes or charges on Queensland business; a commitment from the Treasurer to keep workers’ compensation premiums at $1.20/$100 and a commitment to cover WorkCover premiums for apprentices; continued funding for CCIQ’s ecoBiz program that supports businesses to reduce their energy and water consumption and cut costs; and the continuation and expansion of successful programs, such as Back to Work.
“CCIQ was disappointed to see no specific measures announced in the Budget to arrest the steep decline of apprenticeship and trainee take-up – although we acknowledge the continuation of a 50 per cent payroll tax rebate for employers who take on an apprentice.
“With a predicted surplus, the business community had a clear expectation that infrastructure spending throughout Queensland’s regions would be increased to stimulate economic activity and create jobs, especially for the youth. But, sadly, this has not been the case.”
Ms Whittle said CCIQ modelling showed the best way to increase jobs growth was to incentivise small businesses to employ.
“That means lifting the payroll tax threshold from $1.1 million to $1.5 million, to create more than 2000 direct jobs across Queensland and many more indirect jobs.
“CCIQ was disappointed to see that the Treasurer was unable to use the surplus to lift the threshold on a tax that penalises businesses for giving someone a job.
“It is a serious matter for the business community and CCIQ will continue to fight for small business owners in this regard. We believe it is certain to be on the radar now in the lead-up to the next election.
“Overall, this is a middle-of-the-road Budget for Queenslanders, with no surprises and no real sweeteners. We feel the government could have done substantially more to support small business.”