Australia’s business community has largely welcomed the 2021-22 Federal Budget tabled by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last night (Tuesday night).
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said incentives to increase workforce participation, promote business investment and boost productivity – all crucial pillars of economic success – were the standout wins for business.
It said this Budget was particularly crucial as the nation transitioned the economy from being stimulus-reliant to market-driven growth.
“With widespread skills and labour shortages as a result of the prolonged international border closure and decreased labour mobility, businesses desperately need government investment in skills and to help unemployed people into work,” the ACCI’s Acting CEO, Jenny Lambert, noted.
Extension to JobTrainer program is welcomed
Among the Budget initiatives singled out by the ACCI as being extremely welcome are the $1-billion extension to the JobTrainer program for another 12 months to train and reskill 17-24 year-olds, as well as the allocation of $150-million to establish 15 industry owned Skills Enterprises in an effort to ensure vocational training is industry led and meeting the needs of the marketplace.
The ACCI has also welcomed the initiative to get unemployed people back into work by boosting wage subsidies for eligible job seekers, the spending of an additional $130-million for unemployed people to set up their own business, and an extra $481-million for the Transition to Work employment service.
The Treasurer was praised, too, for extending the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements by an extra six months to March 2022.
“It’s good news that the Government has extended the successful Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program. It has been very popular, with places in the initial round taken up six months quicker than expected, creating tens of thousands of new job and training opportunities,” Lambert said.
Productivity measures include supporting business investment through temporary full-expensing and temporary loss carry-back, now both extended till 2023, a new Patent Box initiative, and the Digital Economy Strategy.
Australia must ‘overhaul how we do business’
“These measures are a good start to overhauling how we do business and ensure Australia remains competitive. The Patent Box scheme is an exciting development and we hope it leads to more collaboration between research facilities and industry,” Lambert stated.
Ken Morrison, Chief Executive of the Property Council of Australia, said the Government’s sensible approach of targeted support measures would continue to stabilise the economy and boost industry confidence.
“The Government has overseen a remarkable economic rebound, but the Budget papers reveal that population growth will quickly become an anchor for our economy,” Morrison observed.
“Growth in GDP, employment and dwelling investment all shift down gears dramatically as the reality of negative net overseas migration takes over.”
He said the Property Council was in favour of the country upscaling its quarantine capacity, rather than getting stuck in a choice of opened or closed borders, depending on health advice at any specific time.
Border-processing capacity must be upscaled
“Upscaling our quarantine and border-processing capacity, and exploring other measures like fast-tracked pre-travel testing, will enable us to drive growth while staying safe,” Morrison said.
“Who should build and fund the additional quarantine facilities is a question for National Cabinet, but what the Budget makes clear is that Australia cannot afford to wait until this problem hopefully sorts itself out at the end of 2022.”
The Property Council also welcomed new measures contained in the Federal Budget to support short-term growth.
“Economic growth is forecast to continue to grow over the next financial year and this is welcome news for industry confidence,” Morrison said.
“The Budget provides a new range of measures to reinforce our recovery, including new home ownership support, tax cuts, additional infrastructure investment, and new incentives to attract global talent.”