THE NSW Treasurer is set to hand down the State Budget on Tuesday and while the State is currently the nation’s strongest economy, now is not the time for timidity or half measures.
The strength of the NSW Budget and economy provides an opportunity to build future capacity and provide the economic settings necessary to ensure NSW remains the No.1 state for investment, business and jobs growth for the next decade and beyond.
Key to this future are the small businesses of NSW who employ half our workforce, and contribute $300 billion dollars a year to the State’s economy. This is also a sector of the economy that is doing it tough with cost pressures threatening their viability and ability to grow.
The NSW Business Chamber has spelt out the benefits of increasing the payroll tax threshold as a practical and immediate way to provide a direct stimulus to jobs growth and much needed support for NSW small business.
Let’s be clear, Payroll Tax is a tax on jobs and for those small businesses approaching, or above the existing NSW payroll tax threshold, the second lowest in Australia, there is a direct financial penalty on employing additional staff. Increasing the threshold will remove a barrier to employment growth and reduce costly administrative red-tape on businesses across the Mid North Coast.
The NSW Business Chamber has also stressed the importance of investing more in trades and related training.
Boosting investment in skills and training particularly in the construction, hospitality and community service sectors was a key plank of the NSW Business Chamber’s pre-Budget submission.
The Budget provides an opportunity to outline measures to tackle our unacceptably high youth unemployment rate and help ensure NSW has the skills required for the future. On the Mid North Coast, current youth unemployment is far too high, with some areas as high as 22 per cent.
The pre-Budget announcements to ensure 20 per cent of jobs on new public infrastructure projects provide training opportunities and the commitment to boost apprenticeship numbers are positive steps. However, there is a need to bolster training availability and accessibility for young job seekers and for targeted measures to address the crippling skill shortages faced by employers.
We also hope to see in the Budget plans to speed up the delivery of promised infrastructure. Sydney is booming off the back of the Government’s pipeline of projects but there is a need to expedite the delivery of infrastructure in the Mid North Coast and surrounding region.
The NSW Government, backed strongly by the NSW Business Chamber, made the right decision to raise substantial funds through asset recycling, there is now a need to focus on the timely investment of these proceeds in projects that provide the long-term economic infrastructure required on the Mid North Coast.
Tuesday’s Budget should be about Keeping NSW No.1. To achieve this it is essential the Budget supports small business, invests more in training and skilling the next generation and fast-tracks the delivery of infrastructure across the region. These three areas are vital to improve productivity and economic capacity.