The ARA’s priorities for the next Victorian State Government

With just days to go until the Victorian State Election on Saturday 24 November 2018, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has released its priorities for the next State Government, covering a range of policy initiatives which will benefit Victorian retailers and the state more broadly.

Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA, said that with Victoria currently in a budget surplus, the next State Government will be in a good position to invest in creating the conditions retailers need to thrive.

“Responsible economic management by successive Governments has placed Victoria in an enviable position, and the time is right to implement policies which enhance liveability and help businesses grow,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Since the previous election, the Victorian retail industry has grown to represent a $62.5 billion contribution, allowing retailers to employ more 16,500 more Victorians in May 2018 than in May of 2014.”

Mr Zimmerman said that three key issues stood out as priorities for the next State Government to address, which would assist in boosting retail’s contribution even further – payroll tax, skills and retail tenancy.

“Payroll tax is effectively an employment levy and discourages smaller retailers from growing their businesses and taking on extra staff,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“While the ARA would ultimately like to see payroll tax abolished altogether, we believe the first step is for the next State Government to raise the threshold to $800,000 to provide immediate relief for medium-sized retailers and small retailers looking to grow.”

On the skills front, the ARA will work with the next State Government to ensure retail is listed as a priority industry for Vocational Education and Training in Victoria.

Mr Zimmerman said the development of important skilling and retraining requirements such as business transformation, succession planning and structural change were crucial for Victorian retailers looking to the future.

“Over the last four years, there has been a significant decline in retail traineeships and apprenticeships in Victoria, from 4,700 students at the end of the 2013/2014 financial year to just 3,000 at the end of 2016/2017,” Mr Zimmerman said.

The ARA will also advocate to level the playing field for retail tenants, with key measures including market appraisals and information transparency on the radar.

“Retailers face a power imbalance when re-negotiating their leases, and the Victorian retail leasing legislation requires important changes to level the playing field,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“We are calling on the next State Government to improve transparency, and reform market reviews, to ensure retailers are not coerced into accepting bad deals.”

The ARA’s election statement also outlines a range of priorities, including reforms of taxation, planning and regulation, the promotion of retail tourism, and the development of a population strategy for Victoria.

To view the ARA’s full suite of election priorities, please click here.

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