With an election looking likely for May 18 or 25, voters must now mull over the options in the federal government’s Budget and the Budget reply by Labor leader Bill Shorten.
For small to medium sized business, Labor has backed the Liberal’s plan to cut tax to 25 per cent for SMEs and added an extra 20 per cent tax break for businesses that invest in new productivity boosting technology or assets above $20,000.
The federal government’s extra sweetener for SMEs is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold to $30,000 and broadening the net to companies earning below $50m a year.
“We’ve backed a tax cut for small to medium businesses and we will provide an extra 20 per cent tax break for every business that invests in productivity boosting equipment above $20,000, whether that’s a big manufacturer being new technology or a tradie getting a new ute. We will invest in industries where Australia can be the best in the world,” Shorten said in his Budget reply.
In a sign of backing the TAFE education system, Shorten promised $200m to refurbish outer metropolitan and regional TAFE campuses and fund 100,000 apprenticeship places.
The Real Media Collective chief executive officer Kellie Northwood supported the initiatives by both sides but said there is a continued gap in fee free TAFE courses for current workers in various industries to upskill, cross train and transition in the modern era. She said this is particularly an issue in the printing industry.
“We are supportive and welcoming of all parties looking at recognising the importance of small to medium sized businesses of which printing is now a large proportion of membership in that,” she said.
“We are particularly encouraged because our industry is in the middle of an innovation revolution and we need greater investment in our equipment and our technologies to be more operationally efficient and these policies support that so we welcome that.
“We probably still remain a bit concerned that all training focus remains on apprenticeships. We believe there is a real transition training piece that is required for our industry because our industry is under enormous change from sales team right through to operational roles.
“Traditional apprenticeship programs are important but there is a massive training transition needed in upskilling and cross training. Our industry is changing and changing dramatically. Printers are not selling specifically to orders, they are selling marketing solutions.”
“That is probably the gap we continue to believe is there and we will continue to work with government about that.”
Printing Industries Association of Australia chief executive officer Andrew Macaulay welcomed Shorten’s announcements on TAFE and apprenticeship funding but raised concerns about Labor’s wage policy which he said will pressure SMEs.
“The VET training announcement is excellent,” Macaulay said.
“The tax and spend nature of the plan, plus the IR plan raise concerns about wages pressure for SMEs in what is already a tight economy.
“PIAA is now discussing detail with both government and opposition about direct impact on the visual communications sector.”
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