“The Queensland State Budget released today is a mixed bag for business,” Australian Industry Group Queensland Head, Shane Rodgers, said today.
“While there is some well targeted investment in industry support programs, the budget introduces a higher payroll tax for thousands of state businesses as well as land tax increases that will likely be passed on to companies leasing property.
“Payroll tax changes are a two-edged sword. The lifting of the threshold point for payroll tax and continuation of targeted concessions is offset by increases to businesses with wage bills above $6.5 million.
“We welcome the continued commitment to the Advance Queensland program as well as the investment in skills development. In particular, we welcome the ‘micro-credentialing’ pilot and the commitment to higher-level apprenticeship programs.
“However, industry is looking for budgets that provide clear incremental steps towards a reliable, 30-year plan for the State.
“Instead we have something of a Bohemian Rhapsody budget – ‘easy come, easy go’ with higher mining royalties and a ‘little high, a little low’ on debt and infrastructure spending respectively. It is a collection of ideas in search of a bigger narrative.
“We welcome the renewed commitment to some big infrastructure projects, but the trend spending on infrastructure is still too low in a growing state.
“The need to deliver the State’s infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner means that much more must be done to identify funding sources to drive a pipeline of future productivity lifting infrastructure projects.
“This includes the further development of structured public-private partnership policies that can lower the risks faced by private investors and attract more private sector investments while reducing upfront costs to the public.
“While a reasonable level of debt for long-term infrastructure can be justified, this is starting to sneak towards the red zone with no pay down of debt in the foreseeable future. This is risky when there is future uncertainty around state income streams.
“The State relies heavily on royalties from mining and will need to work hard to preserve faith in Queensland as a reliable investment environment for all areas of industry. There will also need to be a disciplined approach to public sector spending for the business sector to have confidence in the State’s fiscal stability.
“Queensland needs to start looking at the four-year budget forward estimates cycle as a clear interim step towards a 30-year transformative plan for the State rather than a collection of short-term initiatives. When this happens the climate for business and jobs growth will be much stronger,” Mr Rodgers said.