Business welcomes Labor focus on surplus & skills but worried by wages plan

05 Apr 2019 |

A commitment from a future Labor government to deliver surplus budgets against the risk of future global shocks is welcomed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australia’s largest business network.

Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said: “The commitment in the Leader of the Opposition’s Budget-in-Reply not just to keep the budget in the black, but to build on surpluses, is vital given Labor’s significant spending announcements.”

“Higher taxes are planned to fund these big-ticket investments and that will reduce incentives for people to earn and invest more and businesses to grow. And we have seen how the best-laid plans of government can come to grief in a hostile Senate. That makes the self-imposed discipline of keeping the budget in surplus critically important.

“Small businesses employ a third of young Australians with a job and 40% of apprentices. They need Australians to be educated and trained for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and so we welcome the promise of extra vocational training places and more apprentices.

“While state government-owned TAFE colleges have an important role, we urge Labor to support quality training delivered by both public and private providers. That is the best way to give students and employers a choice of where to learn the skills that they need.

“It was important to hear the Opposition Leader say that Labor will take into account the capacity for businesses to pay wage increases.  However, the small businesses who have the least capacity to pay higher wages without cutting the hours and jobs they offer their workers are yet to be convinced. In particular, the introduction of the union movement’s concept of a living wage is worrying many small businesses, when what we really need is simpler workplace relations rules to make it easier to create jobs and run businesses well.

“Small businesses want us to make workplace relations one of the priorities in our campaign for the next government, Labor or Liberal, to recognise that Small Business is a Big Deal. That’s rounded out by the need to increase the numbers of people trained and available for skilled jobs, and for energy policies that will get power prices down and keep them down.

“We believe the best way for Australians to have the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which they aspire is to make our country the best place in the world to do business.”

The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest network of employers, speaking for over 300,000 businesses providing jobs to millions of Australians in every sector of the economy

Duncan Bremner

Director - Public Affairs and Advocacy

P  |  0448 822 666

E  |  [email protected]

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