Budget’s regional and tourism measures welcomed
THE Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has welcomed the 2019-20 Victorian budget, noting its continued infrastructure investment and steps to lower business costs.
The budget raises the payroll tax threshold to $700,000 by 2022-23 and cuts the regional payroll tax rate to 1.21 per cent over the same period.
VCCI chief executive Mark Stone said while these measures helped lower business costs and grow jobs, it was disappointing that the full benefits are four years away.
“Even after the payroll tax relief takes effect, Victoria’s payroll tax threshold will still be well below levels existing in all other Australian states. More needs to be done sooner to ensure Victorian business does not lose its competitive edge.”
The budget also adopts VCCI’s recommendation to introduce a 50 per cent stamp duty concession for commercial and industrial property transactions in regional Victoria.
“This $70 million saving will provide a positive incentive for business investment and location in regional Victoria,” Mr Stone said.
Despite a decline in property tax revenue, the 2019-20 budget projects budget surpluses averaging $3.4 billion per annum over the forward estimates.
Mr Stone said the projected increase in net debt to 10 per cent of GDP by 2023 needs to be carefully managed to ensure Victoria retains its triple-A rating.
“It is equally important that recurrent spending be kept in check. Business wants to see the government commit to keeping public sector wage growth in line with the private sector.”
The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) was also supportive of the stamp duty and payroll tax measures.
“With investment key to growing regional Victoria, VTIC welcomes the announced land stamp duty and payroll tax relief,” VTIC chief executive officer Felicia Mariani said.
“However, these measures must be complemented with wider reforms that reduce the complexity of the planning regime.”
VTIC noted there was almost $61 million in direct investment for various tourism initiatives in 2019-20, including $32 million for Visit Victoria.
“While this investment in Visit Victoria is positive, a longer-term funding allocation is needed to ensure the state’s primary marketing agency can elevate Victoria’s status as a must-see destination at home and abroad,” Ms Mariani said.