ARA welcomes skills and training focus in Queensland Budget, but it must flow through to retail

Tuesday 15 June 2021

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed a deeper investment in skills, jobs growth and small business support in today’s 2021-22 Queensland Budget, but renewed calls for retail workers to benefit from apprenticeship and training opportunities.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said Queensland’s robust growth and strong consumer confidence demonstrate the positive measures state governments can take when they begin to recover from the pandemic impacts.

“It’s great to see the Queensland economy powering ahead of expectations, with a continued focus on support for small business and employment opportunities for disadvantaged workers in particular,” Mr Zahra said.

“Retail is Australia’s largest private sector employer, and predominantly a women’s sector, so it’s critical to make sure the skills and training investment flows through to our industry where it will have positive impacts on jobs and the Queensland economy.

“We support the continuation of payroll tax incentives and small business grants and loans, recognising that many small businesses continue to recover from the pandemic – with travel retail and businesses in the CBD the most adversely affected.

“Unfortunately, Covid is not yet behind us, with 33 days of state-imposed lockdowns around Australia this year alone. The Queensland Government’s economic resilience will set it up to provide ongoing support to affected businesses in the instance of further state restrictions.”

Mr Zahra also welcomed the environmental protection measures in the Budget.

“Sustainability is an enormous priority for Australia – for our retail members both large and small – and the ARA recognises the continued investment announced by the Queensland Government. We look forward to working constructively with the government and our members within the energy and waste reduction areas in particular,” Mr Zahra said.

With Covid restrictions easing around the country, Mr Zahra called on the Queensland Government to fast-track the return of the normal density quotient for food retailers who continue to be significantly disadvantaged by an inability to serve a profitable number of customers.

“Overall, Queensland has done well to contain the virus. The vaccines are being rolled out, confidence is returning and we need to ensure businesses can operate at their full potential without onerous capacity restrictions,” Mr Zahra said.

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