The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australia’s largest business network, welcomed the support for small business and skills announced tonight in the Federal Budget.
CEO of the Australian Chamber, James Pearson, said: “Twhe government has heard our calls for greater investment in the skills needed by industry. Both job seekers and business will benefit, including from the extra support directly to apprentices and the businesses that employ them.”
“We endorse the establishment of a National Skills Commission to drive long term Vocational Education and Training reform, and the creation of a new National Career Institute. National leadership in VET, which must include a voice for business, and improving access for students to careers information and a single portal for guidance about jobs, have been on our wish list.
“This investment in skills, combined with the increase in investment in infrastructure in both cities and regional communities, should deliver a meaningful and positive impact on productivity.
“Making it easier for people to get to and from their place of work, speeding up the transport of goods and delivery of services, and encouraging growth in regional communities makes sense.
“Small and growing businesses will be pleased at the increase in the instant asset write off to a $30,000 threshold, up from the current $20,000 and promised $25,000, and the news that more businesses will be eligible to use this incentive. Both the higher threshold and making the write off available to businesses with turnover up to $50 million, up from $10 million turnover, are strong responses to our advocacy.
“Expanding the size and the accessibility of the write-off encourages businesses to invest, expand their markets and create more productive jobs by using improved equipment and technology.
“On the downside, businesses who are desperate to fill vacancies so that they can keep meeting their customers’ needs, let alone grow and create more jobs, will be disappointed that the government has locked in cuts in permanent migration for the next four years. It ignores the evidence of the economic benefit of skilled migration and assumes Australia’s needs will be unchanged. This is despite the increasing cost to support our ageing population with healthcare and pensions in retirement, and the contribution young skilled migrants make to meeting those costs.
“Also the Budget has not made clear whether the Government is going to make up the shortfall in funding from the migration levy linked to the Skilling Australians Fund which is the agreement with the States and Territory Government to deliver more apprentices. If that shortfall is not made up, then it will take some of the gloss off the skills announcements.
“A budget surplus is in sight, more than a decade after the Global Financial Crisis. We would have preferred a more ambitious plan to pay down debt. It will be another five years before debt falls below the long term average, and a decade before the Commonwealth Government will be debt free and no longer have to spend taxpayers’ money paying off principal and interest.
“Nevertheless, the Budget is an investment in lifting low productivity and encouraging business growth. The government has responded positively to some important business needs.”