Industry reacts to Federal Budget

07 October, 2020 by Andy Young

Small business is at the heart of the economic recovery plans set down by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in his Budget last night.

As The Shout has reported, a range of measures aimed at boosting the cash flow of small businesses and increasing jobs have been set down as the Government looks to spend its way out of the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The measures have been widely welcomed by industry associations including the Australian Hotels Association, Retail Drinks Australia and Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA).

AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson said measures like the direct wage subsidy scheme, JobMaker Hiring Credit and instant asset write-off would have an ‘immediate boost’.

“Our struggling hotels are ready, willing and able to employ staff,” Ferguson said.

“They have COVIDSafe plans in place and take their health obligations extremely seriously – we welcome the emphasis on jobs in tonight’s Budget and look forward to playing our role in getting more Australians safely back to work.

“One great thing about jobs in our hard-hit sector is they can be created ‘instantly’ through demand – you don’t need to wait for a shovel to hit the ground.

“This budget is crucial as it helps steer us out of the crisis. But the Federal Government can’t do it all. It’s a balancing act and the States and Territories need to ensure they have the appropriate safe trading schemes in place to allow us to do what we do best – create jobs and serve our customers in a safe environment.”

Acting CEO of Retail Drinks Australia, Michael Waters, also welcomed Budget measures that will help small business.

“Retail Drinks Australia strongly welcomes the announcements made in last night’s Federal Budget, including the Government’s various digitisation measures designed to assist Australian businesses in adapting to the current operating landscape,” Water said.

“We look forward to working proactively with both the Commonwealth Government and each of the states and territories in continuing to ensure that liquor retailers are well-equipped to respond to the pressures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

R&CA also welcomed the budget as a recipe for recovery for more than 45,000 restaurants, cafes and caterers across the country.

R&CA CEO Wes Lambert said: “We know that demand to eat out is still high, so by putting $12.5 billion dollars back into the pockets of 11 million Australian taxpayers over the next 12 months, the government is doing its bit to stimulate demand across the Accommodation and Food Services Sector.

R&CA also welcomed new announcements relating to loss carry backs, full expensing and the expansion of small business tax incentives as an economic jump-start for businesses who have been struggling under mounting costs and debt throughout the pandemic.

“For many hospitality businesses that were previously profitable, being able to access their losses now in the form of a cash refund will give an instantaneous cash-flow boost,” Lambert said.

“The expanded small business incentives will also help those businesses that sit above the $10 million cut-off to access those incentives for the first time. As these businesses seek to recover, the introduction of temporary full expensing will further encourage businesses to invest and create jobs.”

While Spirits and Cocktails Australia applauded the Budget overall as a strong response to unprecedented challenges, CEO Greg Holland said more will need to be done to support the Australian hospitality and tourism sectors, adding “we believe fixing the spirits supertax is a simple and highly effective place to start”.

He said: “The Morrison Government missed an opportunity to boost Australia’s struggling hospitality and tourism sectors in this year’s Budget when it failed to fix this country’s unfair alcohol tax system.

“With a fairer alcohol tax regime in place – one that aligns spirits tax rates with brandy, and freezes CPI increases – our spirits producers can bounce back and create more jobs, buy more produce from rural suppliers, and help attract tourism back to regional areas.

“Importantly, independent modelling commissioned by Spirits and Cocktails Australia shows that this simple reform would actually boost tax revenues by $1.4 billion over forward estimates.”

Although the tax system remains a problem area for the Government, the AHA’s Ferguson did say he thought measures in the budget such as the instant asset write-off would help many hoteliers in the coming years.

“This will be particularly important in 2021 and 2022 as our hard-hit hoteliers’ get back on their feet and start to re-invest,” he said.

“The new apprentice incentive scheme will also enable employers to take on willing Australians and start them on a rewarding career path in necessary trades such as chefs and hotel managers.

“The JobMaker Hiring Credit and direct wage subsidy schemes will also be massive boosts to a sector which has kept accruing mountains of debt during this crisis.

“The AHA congratulates the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the Morrison Government on this Budget.”