Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down his third federal budget on Tuesday, 11 May, with a big focus on economic recovery post-pandemic and ensuring jobs remain a key priority moving forward.
“The COVID-19 recession will see our deficit reach $161 billion this year, falling to $57 billion in 2024–25. With more Australians back at work, this year’s deficit is $52.7 billion lower than was expected just over six months ago in last year’s budget,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“...We are better placed than nearly any other country to meet the economic challenges that lie ahead. Consumer sentiment is at its highest in 11 years. Business conditions reached record-highs and more Australians are in work than ever before.
“Our plan is working. Australia’s economic engine is roaring back to life.”
Quickly after the release of this year’s budget, Business NSW, formerly NSW Business Chamber, issued a statement commending the federal government for its focus on “business-led economic recovery”.
“This is a budget for the extraordinary times we are living in, recognising the recent difficulties, but full of optimism that the next few years will be more prosperous through job creation and infrastructure spending,” said Business NSW CEO Daniel Hunter.
“It is pleasing to see meaningful measures that business owners have embraced have been extended, including the instant asset write-off scheme, allowing business owners to purchase much-needed equipment to allow their business to grow, while the small business loan scheme has been extended, as has the temporary loss carry-back initiative.
“These are important measures that have a big impact and make it easier for small business owners to keep their doors open each day and employ their fellow Australians.”
Mr Hunter also responded to tax measures introduced in this year’s budget, saying cuts for low and middle-income workers will help “put more money in the pockets of workers, allowing them to support their local businesses”.
“Small business owners have also been provided some relief from Tax Office debt recovery actions, with new powers for the independent umpire to pause the process while disputes are underway, and no payments will now be required until a matter has been resolved,” he said.
“There’s no doubt the closing of the international borders has had an incredible impact on the tourism and hospitality sectors, especially in NSW which is the nation’s gateway.
“Almost $275 million has been set aside in this budget towards the expansion and extension of successful programs to support Australian businesses such as travel agents, zoos and aquariums and events providers that rely on international tourists. That will give many operators in that sector the confidence they need to continue operations while uncertainty over international tourism remains.”
Further, Mr Hunter commended the government for maintaining its commitment to ensuring a digital future.
Among the measures highlighted, the government’s budget committed to invest $1.2 billion in its Digital Economy Strategy for three key reasons:
1. To build digital skills and capabilities.
2. To encourage business investment.
3. To transform government services.
“If the past 12 months has taught us anything, it’s the importance of businesses, particularly small business to be able to work flexibly and in response to the ever-changing conditions,” Mr Hunter said.
“Small businesses are being supported to adopt digital technologies through a $12.7 million expansion of the Digital Solutions – Australian Small Business Advisory Service. A further $15.3 million will be used to drive business uptake of e-invoicing, which can ensure businesses get paid quickly and more efficiently.”
Finally, Mr Hunter expressed the group’s support of the government’s commitment to developing talent in the workforce.
“To ensure there are opportunities for Australian students to build skills for their future workforce, the government is providing an additional 5,000 Commonwealth-supported short course places at non-university higher education providers in 2021,” he said.
“The government is doubling its commitment to the JobTrainer Fund, which will support a total of more than 450,000 new training places to upskill jobseekers and young people, at the same time creating more than 170,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships.
“Part of this program will see training support for 5,000 places to assist women break into non-traditional trades, an initiative that is long overdue.”
Mr Hunter concluded: “Overall, this budget supports jobs and will help business owners lead the Australian economic recovery from the COVID pandemic.”