The State Government’s latest budget has been handed down, with a focus on growing infrastructure and providing small business payroll tax relief, however Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce President Victoria Gracie said the budget requires more effort if it truly wants to support regional businesses.
“We urge the Government to look for more savings within the budget so as to bring down debt and invest in the local economy,” Ms Gracie said.
Chamber believes that the payroll tax relief for small business in terms of a threshold increase is crucial to boost employment, while the discount for regional areas recognises the need to boost confidence in the private sector.
“Though there’s still a marathon to run in regards to returning business confidence and getting our finances back in order, the government’s budgetary challenges are still significant with funds for investment in the wider economy becoming harder to find with 40% over the State’s recurrent expenditure allocated to wages within a burgeoning middle management class of the public service.
“Unfortunately, big ticket infrastructure items are largely repeats of previously announced projects, and effectively mask the fact that the level of infrastructure spending is actually running a lot lower now than a decade ago.”
Mackay Chamber noted in its budget submission that high power bills are crippling regional businesses.
“Farmers are turning their pumps off and energy-intensive businesses are being squeezed near to breaking point. We need to make sure any extra money raised through the waste levy is paid back to businesses to compensate for rising power prices, and not be pocketed by the government.
“We urge the State Government to listen to the recommendations by the ACC and set up regional competition for the current monopoly and split our State’s two power generators into three. This would lower wholesale power prices, making energy more affordable for Queensland residents and businesses.”
Ms Gracie said the State Government’s revenue relies primarily on some of the most profligate power generators in Australia and elevated royalties, which have served to avoid the necessary budget repairs required for a more sustainable set of books.
Mackay Chamber is also calling for more answers on the Government’s “Buy Local” scheme. “The scheme was supposed to ensure small businesses received a larger share of Government contracts. Unfortunately, the State Government won’t release any figures and we are unable to check if this is actually happening.
“If the State Government is serious about helping regional communities, it would spend more on small businesses which are genuinely local.”
For more information:
Victoria Gracie, President 0405 618 142