Strong Budget Aimed at Election
"The Victorian Government has delivered a solid budget with a strong forward-looking focus on social and infrastructure spending and support for regional areas," The Australian Industry Group's Victoria Head, Tim Piper, said today.
"The $13.7 billion infrastructure program for 2018-19 is very welcome and particularly so given its underpinning of relative funding certainty. It will be critical in lifting Victoria's productive capacity as well as boosting local jobs and meeting the social needs of the State's growing population.
"We also look to the Government continuing to give its support for full and fair participation of local suppliers for these projects. This includes conformity with Australian standards where relevant, plus ensuring that Victorian taxpayers get value for money throughout the life of the infrastructure, not just from the initial cheapest bids.
"The Government's support for regional development is important, including the reduction in the payroll tax rate for regional businesses and the $760 million spend to deliver a range of regional transport, health, education and community infrastructure priorities.
"The $4.9 million to create the Office of Industry Participation and Jobs and to expand the Industry Capability Network to Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Shepparton will also support local jobs and participation in major projects.
"We also acknowledge the key budget measures aimed at building skills and transforming the State's TAFE and apprenticeship programs. This will help to improve business confidence by aligning training with the needs of industry whilst providing a framework to further grow the economy.
"The Government has taken steps to reduce the costs of doing business in regional Victoria.
"However, we are disappointed that more has not been done. The reduction in payroll tax for regional businesses is welcome news. Ai Group now looks forward to working with the State Government to achieve meaningful reductions in payroll tax across the board. It remains a significant frustration for businesses that the broader national tax reform agenda remains unaddressed.
"We are also disappointed that the Government has not acted to deal with Victoria's ongoing waste recycling issues by utilising the hundreds of millions of dollars currently held in the Sustainability Levy.
"We are looking for further reforms to reduce the regulatory burden on business, including a more urgent focus on building capacity by investing in innovation, and a stronger emphasis on assisting Victorian businesses to adopt and adapt digital technologies.
"The Government also needs to ensure that energy reliability and affordability is at the forefront of industry policy actions. This is a top-tier concern for Victorian businesses with dramatic increases in wholesale electricity and gas prices presenting a serious threat to their competitiveness. We need to unblock production barriers while maintaining safety and environmental standards, and continue to identify opportunities for capacity building and capital assistance support programs for businesses," Mr Piper said.
Tim Piper – 0411 430 301
The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is a peak employer organisation in Australia which represents the interests of thousands of businesses in an expanding range of sectors including: manufacturing; engineering; construction; food & beverage processing; transport & logistics; information technology; telecommunications; labour hire; and defence. Ai Group's influence crosses all areas of workplace development and sustainability. aigroup.com.au