G21 gives mixed response to Budget

October 15, 2020 BY

G21 chief executive officer Elaine Carbines.

LEADING Geelong lobby group G21 has given a mixed response to the Coalition’s 2020/21 Federal Budget and its impact on the region.
G21 chief executive officer Elaine Carbines said her organisation especially welcomed major funding for the duplication of the rail line between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds stations and the duplication of Barwon Heads Road.
“However, the high-level broad-brush nature of this Budget’s massive new spending and taxation announcements leaves many questions unanswered about specific project funding needed across our region.
“Significant national infrastructure spends, unprecedented assistance to manufacturing, skills training for young people, new university places for school leavers and incentives to increase apprenticeships are all welcome and will benefit our region.
“Unfortunately, the Budget remains silent on support for many of the region’s projects. These include the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub to focus on preventative health in Geelong’s northern suburbs and the funding of upgrades to key roads serving the economically important GeelongPort precinct, as part of the national highway network.
“Hopefully both of these vital projects will receive funding under the Building Better Regions Fund, or similar programs.”
She said the new JobMaker hiring credit – which encourages businesses to employ young Australians aged 16-35 on JobSeeker – could be significant, as could the $1.2 billion earmarked to help companies hire 100,000 new apprentices and trainees.
“With youth unemployment particularly high in some disadvantaged pockets of Geelong, G21 hopes the program can produce the promised jobs for young people in our region.
“Under the new wage subsidy program, businesses that hire a new or re-engaged Australian apprentice or trainee will qualify for a 50 per cent wage subsidy until October 2021.
“This should have a positive impact on the many businesses in this region who need apprentices in manufacturing and construction. It will potentially set up a new generation of tradespeople.”
Ms Carbines said although G21 generally welcomed tax cuts in the Budget, there was no guarantee bringing corporate tax cuts forward would encourage businesses to take on more employees.
Geelong Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Ben Flynn similarly hoped to see more Geelong-specific infrastructure in the Budget.
“It was good to see a few local infrastructure announcements, but there could have been more. I don’t think our local tourism was strongly enough supported,” he said.
The JobKeeper job subsidy is still scheduled to end in March, but Mr Flynn said he hoped it could be extended for the hardest-hit industries.
“I would like to see more support for small businesses and sole traders who may not benefit from the initiatives (in the Budget), especially if they don’t employ people or have the cash to purchase large assets.
“I would also like to see more support for scale up and growth programs that support businesses and build greater confidence.”

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