Victorian Budget crucial to businesses’ COVID-19 recovery

30 October 2020

Victorian businesses have been the hardest hit in the nation by the COVID-19 pandemic and will be looking to the State Government to provide support and incentives to get back to business and grow jobs.

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In the lead up to the 24 November State Budget, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has written to Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas MP on behalf of members to make several recommendations designed to recover and reclaim Victoria’s status as Australia’s economic powerhouse.

The Victorian Chamber has engaged widely with members through a series of sector specific roundtables to get a deep understanding of their experience in navigating the roadmap for recovery and what further action the State Government needs to take to support business recovery into 2021 and beyond.

Our key message to the government is that there are three key priorities across all industries to navigate emerging risks, re-ignite recovery and ensure Victoria rebounds strongly. These are:

  1. Protect and grow local businesses and jobs
  2. Reclaim our global reputation
  3. Define and implement the next big build

We submitted more than 50 specific recommendations that will impact every business across the state including:

  • Increase the payroll tax threshold to $1 million (from $650,000) and reduce the payroll tax rate to four per cent for metropolitan Victorian employers and 1.75 percent for regional Victorian employers.
  • Waive 2020-21 payroll tax liabilities for employers with payrolls up to $10 million in 2019-20.
  • Establish grants of $5,000 to $50,000 to help offset business costs to upgrade operating facilities to become COVID Safe such as automatic door installation, outdoor break-out facility construction, sanitiser stations and the purchase of staff and customer tracking applications.
  • Establish a $10 billion industry growth fund, centred on a statewide Special Economic Zone, to stimulate advanced manufacturing and innovation commercialisation across the state.
  • Provide secure, long term funding to key demand-driving organisations such as Visit Victoria and the Melbourne Convention Bureau to support COVID-19 recovery tourism marketing and the attraction of new, world class major business events, along with investment in accommodation, venues, attractions and digital engagement.
  • Fast-track the return of international students and provide additional funding to the Higher Education State Investment Fund to help students suffering hardship, boost research and save jobs in the higher education sector.
  • Review Infrastructure Victoria’s and Infrastructure Australia’s priority lists to identify Victorian investments that can be reordered from medium term (5-10 years) to near term (0–5 years) projects. Assess whether delivery timeframes can be brought forward on priority projects and initiatives already underway.
  • Provide one-off grants of up to $20,000 to sole traders who have been significantly impacted by industry restrictions and can demonstrate ongoing operating expenses.
  • Establish a buy local initiative for Victorian manufactured products.
  • Address the unprecedented decline in apprenticeship and traineeship commencements and completions by introducing a payroll tax exemption for apprentices and trainees.
  • Direct grants to support investments, projects and activities that support industry development, capability building and strategic export development

To be attributed to Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra:

“Action to support our three, interconnected themes will be key to arresting the economic fallout caused by COVID-19, complement current efforts to re-open businesses and restart the economy and secure longer-term, sustainable prosperity.

“Victorian businesses, big and small, have served our state for generations, providing jobs and the foundations of the state’s liveability. Victoria was the engine room of the national economy before COVID-19 hit and, with the right incentives, levers and policies, we can be once again.

“Victoria’s post-COVID-19 economy will be a different economy: we must be bold in our thinking and embrace innovation, collaboration, technology and business entrepreneurship. Victorian business is looking to the 2020-21 Victorian Budget to create an environment that will boost confidence, grow jobs and strengthen investment and trade.” 

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