The Hunter Business Chamber believes that while the 2018/19 Federal Budget handed down by Treasurer Scott Morrison provides a solid economic blueprint for the nation, more needs to be done to support business.
Hunter Business Chamber CEO, Bob Hawes said while some sections of business will gain a net benefit, more should be done to encourage the growth of small business across the Hunter region.
“The majority of benefit for the Hunter will be a consequence of continuation of existing programs and, unfortunately, not from new initiatives,” Bob said.
“This includes extension of the $20,000 instant asset write-off for another 12 months to 30 June 2019 as well as the boost and maintenance of existing programs and initiatives around infrastructure, innovation and research and development.
“We welcome the news of a $200 million boost to Building Better Regions funding and hope the Hunter will see its fair share of this.
“The Hunter plays a critical role in meeting national defence needs so ongoing commitment to the Defence Expenditure and Development Program is crucial and extra funding of $80 million to enhance the defence export industry and $68 million to enhance capability of small and medium sized enterprise in the defence sector, is certainly welcomed.
“It was pleasing to note a commitment to previously announced Gonski 2.0 initiatives with improved access for regional and rural areas to higher education placements. We will be looking for more detail around the Skilling Australia Fund.”
While the Hunter Business Chamber said there were positives that came out of the Budget, it also said it fell short in some areas.
“Unfortunately, this budget fell short when it came to providing further drought relief to support farmers in drought-affected areas and an injection of new funds to fix mobile black spots in regional Australia,” Bob said.
“The region does not benefit from the increase in infrastructure funding announced for specific projects and the M1 link Black Hill to Raymond Terrace has failed to attract attention once again.
“Projections for a balanced and surplus budget are a long way off and we would’ve liked to have seen some significant commitment to skills development beyond the existing programs.
“We will be looking closely at the details around a number of initiatives including the Medical Industry Growth Plan, with $1.3 billion to fund genomic research projects. This could benefit regional based research facilities involved in medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals medical research.
“We will also be hoping to see benefit across the region from the $1 billion Urban Congestion Fund but we will remain cautious on this until we get a greater understanding of how this will work.”
Bob also commented on the impact of the Budget on local small business.
“Small business owners doing the right thing are often frustrated by those operating within the black economy and a number of measures – including stopping businesses tendering for government contracts if they fail to meet tax obligations, and the introduction of an economy wide cash payment limit of $10,000 – will level the playing field,” Bob said.
“Tax cuts and threshold changes will increase flow of money in the economy and help support growth and investment and this is especially important across regional areas.”
IMAGE | Hunter Business Chamber has commented on the impact of the Federal Budget on the Hunter region. Photo: AJM Photography.