13 May 2015
FAR North Queensland business leaders have welcomed elements of the 2015 Federal Budget, giving the nod to the centrepiece proposal of an immediate tax cut for the region’s critical small business sector.
The Far North will also benefit from a $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure fund, and a $300 million fund and tax deductibility for farm infrastructure.
But with key measures of the 2014 Budget still lingering in the Senate, local industry representatives hope policy can be implemented effectively to encourage much-needed economic confidence and investment in the Far North.
The alliance of Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Advance Cairns welcomed a 1.5 per cent tax reduction as a win for employers and job seekers.
Cairns Chamber of Commerce CEO Deb Hancock said with small businesses accounting for 85 per cent of the city’s commerce and “the vast majority” of jobs, it could spur economic growth.
“(In Cairns) 85 per cent of business are in the micro to small, or small to medium categories, so it will be very welcome for the Far North Queensland community,” she said.
“All those kinds of initiatives count when you’re considering growth and expansion and putting on new employees, so that will be a saving that people can apply.” Ms Hancock said she hoped benefits for the Far North would not become clogged in the Senate.
“If we are to get this country really moving we need to have everybody that’s party to making these significant decisions putting political self-interest behind them, and looking at the bigger picture,” she said.
Funding for long-awaited works to seal a key 140km stretch of the region’s Hann Highway and upgrade the Bruce Highway was also all but confirmed.
Following Joe Hockey’s Budget, Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch told The Cairns Post his Far Northern electorate would directly benefit from the Northern Australia fund.
“There is a $5 billion fund … for ports, pipelines, electricity, water infrastructure,” he said.
“That is a massive commitment and that is exclusively for Northern Australia. “This is the first $5 billion being made available to encourage public and private investment in ports, dams and electricity.’’ Mr Entsch also flagged $14 million for the Cairns southern access corridor and $15 million for roads between Cairns and Ingham.
Despite a pool of money set aside for public projects, Far Northern Labor representatives remained sceptical of the Government’s commitment to improving infrastructure.
Queensland Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt will this morning respond to the Budget at a business breakfast in Brisbane and insist funding for infrastructure, health and education should be more of a priority.
“There’s very little in the Budget to support the Palaszczuk Government’s jobs, infrastructure and economic development agenda,” he will say.
“That’s what we’re crying out for in Queensland – major investments in job-creating infrastructure – but unfortunately the Abbott Government hasn’t delivered.” Far Northern Labor Senator Jan McLucas said the Opposition would not support proposals that affected low and middle-income earners.“We will not support anything … that forces unemployment up as the last Budget did,’’ she said.
Courtesy of the Cairns Post