Queensland budget a win: PIAA

The Queensland Labor Government has delivered its 2018 budget, with additional money allocated towards TAFE, and payroll tax discounts.


The Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) is happy with the results, despite some misgivings in media reporting around the reliance on commodity prices to fund increased spending.


The industry body says it is pleased that the Palasczcuk Government has extended its 50 per cent discount on payroll taxes, is investing $770m through the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Investment Plan, with an additional $85m to be put towards TAFE over three years, $1.3m to support Queensland Apprentices.


The payroll tax discount comes at a cost of $26m the State budget, and helps print businesses by extending the 50 per cent payroll tax rebate scheme for apprentices and trainees education.


Walter Kuhn is the President of the PIAA, and owner, founder of Queensland print and packaging business Kuhn Corp.

Kuhn says, “I think the overall budget is not bad. It helps the key areas the industry needs to look at, investment into training, including $85m in TAFE is long welcome. It will go a long way for industry training which is lacking at the moment.

“Money into apprenticeship programs is welcomed, and the Government is on the right track from that point of view.


“I think they need to look at more targeted training. The individual training aspect can be more geared towards helping employers, or subsidising employers to put apprentices on. We all know it costs businesses money in the first year.


“The Government should look at reimbursing companies for the first six to twelve months of the apprentices life. Let’s put the money where it is needed, in the employers hands to pay the apprentices, as a carrot.


“It is good steps that they have spent the money on TAFE. It is key to training in all states, and if Queensland is going to lead the way that is excellent.”


Andrew Macaulay, CEO, PIAA, says, “The extension of the 50 per cent offset payroll tax to assist with training is fantastic. We have been advocating for that for sometime, and see it as an important tool for small business.


“We would always like to see greater attention on payroll tax for employing apprentices. We want to see a significant investment into TAFE, there is some money there but it is paltry amounts. We want to see some encouragement in the school system around the value of trades as careers. It is a lost opportunity from state governments to promote stable, long term careers, and increase the workforce in productive, training based businesses.


“We have been talking about procurement guidelines with the government, and would have loved to have seen a real tangible commitment about buying locally, for the print and packaging sectors are really important.


“Especially in Queensland, where you have PSPs capable of producing everything the state government needs.


“The payroll tax discount is a terrific thing we would like to see nationwide, and greater than 50 per cent. For a small to medium size enterprise, taking on apprentices is a cost. By taxing the employer on their payroll, it is a disincentive to increasing employment. It is a very good way of government helping small business.”


As for how the budget compares to other state spending on education, and vocational education, Macaulay says, “We encourage state governments to look more closely at their training, and to put more in it.


“Vocational training is a big issue at the state level, nationwide.


“Queensland can do more, our conversations with the Government in South Australia make us feel we will get a better outcome there.


“We are pleased to see the Victorian Government supporting Holmesglen.”


Some of the new funding will be supported in part by a new waste levy being introduced by the Government, expected to bring in $400m per year, and deter companies dumping rubbish in Queensland. It remains to be seen how the levy will affect print manufacturers, with PIAA seeking answers.


Macaulay says, “We are wanting to see the detail on whether the waste levy will affect printers. For printers that are engaged in sustainable, green printing, we think the processes will be able to manage the impact of the levy.”


As for the negative press around the budget, Macaulay says, “The reason it is getting a knocking more broadly is the high amount of spending. They talk about capping public servants at the rate of population growth, but not salary costs. They are relying heavily on income from commodities, and at the same time they are increasing investment in mining skills in Queensland. They are riding a wave of increased commodity prices, helping their bottom line.


“There is a variable there beyond their control.”

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