Budget a 'mixed bag', says Biznet

Blue Mountains’ business chamber Biznet has offered a mixed response to last week’s tough federal budget.

The regional chamber of commerce president Vent Thomas said while he did “not agree with all of the government’s budget decisions, every business owner knows the importance of making the difficult decisions, costs can’t continue to grow faster than revenue, though how one manages this at a national level is, of course, part of a larger discussion”.

Mr Thomas said he was pleased to see “the investment of $2.9 billion for major road upgrades in western Sydney to support the construction of a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek, ending almost 30 years of inaction and delivering tens of thousands of jobs”.

Vent Thomas of Biznet.

Vent Thomas of Biznet.

But he said “the increase in income tax for those earning more than $180,000, the indexation of fuel excise, new charges for health care and tightening of various other payments would reduce the disposable income of customers and impact on demand for goods and services.”

Some businesses would be affected “by the consolidation of a number of business support programs including Enterprise Connect, Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation investment fund into a single package called the Entrepreneur’s Infrastructure Program, resulting in reduction of funding of more than $500 million”.

And another “significant change for businesses” was the government’s plans regarding the increase in the superannuation guarantee levy, which would see the rate rise to 9.5 per cent from July 1, he said.

There were also a number of key changes to tax and spending that could directly affect businesses.

The most significant, the government’s election commitment to cut company taxes by 1.5 per cent, “which has been accompanied by an offsetting decrease in the research and development tax concession”.

“Cuts in red tape by $1 billion means staff and business owners can spend less time doing paperwork and more time helping customers. This is just the tip of the iceberg but a welcome reduction.”

But Mr Thomas said their group was “concerned that reduced payments to the states and local governments for health and education may simply lead to higher council rates and payroll tax increases down the track” and he also “lamented cuts across the board to art and science funding”.

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