“With business sentiment wavering amid global economic uncertainty, now is not the time for the Government to relax its effort on budget repair,” James Pearson, CEO of Australia’s largest and most representative business network, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said today, following the release of the Australian Chamber’s Pre Budget Submission .
“While the Australian economy has performed well across a range of measures, including GDP and employment growth over the past year, a number of challenges remain.
“Weaker investment and private consumption growth, as well as slowing Chinese growth impacting on demand for Australia’s exports, may weigh heavily on economic growth in 2019.
“With an election looming both Government and Opposition will be tempted to increase spending, but now is not the time to loosen the reins.
“The Budget is forecast to be in surplus in 2019/20, but there is still a way to go to reduce Government debt to more comfortable levels. We encourage the Government to maintain its focus on budget repair.
“The key priority should be to put in place a plan to reduce net public debt and drive economic growth over the medium to longer term.
“The Government’s announced goal this week to eliminate public debt over ten years is a good start. Businesses would like to see both major parties set out a plan for debt reduction.
“Any new government initiatives should aim to increase productivity and improve our international competitiveness, so that businesses can flourish and create wealth, opportunities and jobs. And every dollar, particularly in the big spending, complex areas of government, should be spent wisely.”
On the back of the Australian Chamber’s pre-budget submission, which makes a number of recommendations across a range of government activities, Mr Pearson highlighted four issues:
Reduce Government Spending
“The Government’s debt situation has improved over the past year on the back of increased revenue from stronger than expected collections from individual and company tax, but it’s not clear how long the good fortune will last,” Mr Pearson, said.
“Budget repair should not rely on temporary fluctuations in revenue that are outside Government’s control.
“We need a clear plan to reduce net public debt over the medium to longer term. This should include a cap on government spending below 24.7% of GDP — the average over the past 30 years.”
Improve skills development and help more young people into work
Additional kick-start incentives for apprenticeships are a proven way to encourage businesses to take on young workers.
“Using the funds already budgeted in the Skilling Australians Fund, an additional apprenticeship incentive should operate throughout 2019 and include traineeships currently not eligible, such as Certificate IIs in small businesses, part-time and, in some circumstances, existing employee traineeships,” Mr Pearson said.
“This will make it easier for more young Australians to join the workforce and build a meaningful career.
“Businesses who want to train and employ young Australians would like to see the Government establish a program to assist each industry to identify the most appropriate pre-apprenticeship and school based pathways. This will deliver the best outcomes for students and job-seekers and maximise the return on investment in vocational training and apprenticeships.”
Capitalise on free-trade agreements
“It’s important that more Australian businesses are internationally engaged. We back the Government’s efforts to boost trade through bilateral and multilateral agreements. We would like to see those agreements rationalised and made easier to use, so Australian businesses can take full advantage of them,” Mr Pearson said.
“We welcome investment by the Government in recent years to provide programs to help Australian businesses better understand trade agreements.
“We encourage the Government to do more to improve the accessibility of free trade agreements to businesses. It can make a big difference for small business who are often daunted by the challenges of selling into overseas markets, while facing growing competition from overseas companies in the Australian market.”
Reduce ASIC Fees for Small Business
“Small business is flavour of the month amongst many politicians, and we need to see the rhetoric backed up with practical support,” Mr Pearson said.
“It’s not just red tape, but also the cost of government fees and charges that can hinder small businesses. Charges should only reasonably reflect the costs of delivering services and the benefit offered in return.
“A recent review revealed that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s (ASIC) regulatory fees and charges are well in excess of cost recovery.
“ASIC’s fees impact unfairly on small business, and fail to satisfy basic principles of equity.
“Small businesses, who make up many of the employers we represent, would be relieved to see ASIC halve the registration fee and annual renewal fee for businesses with an annual turnover of less than $5 million.”
The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest network of employers, speaking for over 300,000 businesses employing millions of Australians in every sector of the economy.
The Australian Chamber is delighted to announce Bryan Clark, Director of ACCI Trade & International Affairs, has been appointed to the Government’s Deregulation Taskforce, announced...
Labor's small business policy released yesterday is welcome recognition of the importance of small business to jobs and the economy, Australia's largest voice for small business, the Australian...
Business welcomes the Federal Government’s plan to manage population growth in a more coordinated way, Australia’s largest network of businesses, the Australian Chamber of Commerce...
Australia’s largest network of businesses, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has welcomed the announcement by Kelly O'Dwyer, Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, of...
The reduction in permanent migration announced by the Government today is not justified by the evidence, Australia’s largest network of businesses, the Australian Chamber of...
The outlook for Australian manufacturing is becoming increasingly uncertain, with the first quarter 2019 results of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Westpac...
Calls for Parliament to set minimum wages based on 60% of median wages would breach Australia’s international treaty obligations, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and...
Australia’s peak body of tourism organisations, the Australian Chamber-Tourism welcomes reports today that the Government has announced a new campaign to attract more working holidaymakers...
Australian employers, employees and job-seekers need to be assured that the Fair Work umpire would remain truly independent in setting minimum wages if Labor wins...
Australia’s temporary skilled visa system is no longer effective in targeting genuine skills shortages faced by Australian businesses, Australia’s largest network of businesses, the Australian...
There is now more reason than ever for next month’s Federal Budget to contain economy-growing policies following the release of the latest National Accounts, Australia’s...
"The Opposition Leader’s reported call to move from a minimum wage to a so-called “living wage” – a proposal pushed by ACTU boss Sally McManus...
The Australian Council of Trade Union’s (ACTU) plan to remove power from employees and employers and hand it to union officials they have never met,...
The Australian Government announced a biosecurity levy in the 2018 budget due to be implemented this July that is significantly flawed. As Australian industry participants...
Australia’s largest network of businesses, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will join Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita...
Australia’s largest network of businesses, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the release by Safe Work Australia of the final report by Marie...
Modelling of the economic consequences of competing emission reduction targets by respected economic consultant and former government adviser on climate change, Dr Brian Fisher demonstrates...
Australia’s largest network of businesses, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed new figures showing annual wage growth in the private sector is...
“Union officials wanting to enter employer premises must be subject to effective oversight and accountability and, like every other Australian, they must respect the law”...
Australia’s largest voice for small business, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is urging the Senate not to recreate mass uncertainty for Australians who...