Bold budget is needed if the momentum is to move west

CONSTRUCTION ZONE: The NSW Government is spending big on infrastructure in Sydney. But is it time for the Central West to see some of that money?
CONSTRUCTION ZONE: The NSW Government is spending big on infrastructure in Sydney. But is it time for the Central West to see some of that money?

THE NSW Treasurer is set to hand down the state budget on Tuesday next week and while NSW is currently the nation’s strongest economy, now is not the time for timidity or half measures.

The strength of the NSW budget and economy provides an opportunity to build future capacity and provide the economic settings necessary to ensure NSW remains the number one state for investment, business and jobs growth for the next decade and beyond.

Key to this future are the small businesses of NSW who employ half our workforce, and contribute $300 billion a year to the state’s economy.

This is also a sector of the economy doing it tough as cost pressures threaten their viability and ability to grow.

The Business Chamber has spelt out the benefits of increasing the payroll tax threshold as a practical and immediate way to provide a direct stimulus to jobs growth and much-needed support for NSW small business.

Let’s be clear, payroll tax is a tax on jobs and for those small businesses approaching - or above – the existing NSW payroll tax threshold (the second-lowest in Australia), there is a direct financial penalty on employing additional staff.

Increasing the threshold will remove a barrier to employment growth and reduce costly administrative red tape on businesses across western NSW.

The Business Chamber has also stressed the importance of investing more in trades and related training.

Boosting investment in skills and training, particularly in the construction, hospitality and community service sectors, was a key plank of the NSW Business Chamber’s pre-budget submission.

The budget provides an opportunity to outline measures to tackle our unacceptably high youth unemployment rate and help ensure NSW has the skills required for the future.

To this end, the pre-budget announcements to ensure 20 per cent of jobs on new public infrastructure projects provide training opportunities and the commitment to boost apprenticeship numbers are positive steps, however, there is a need to bolster training availability and accessibility for young job-seekers and for targeted measures to address the skill shortages faced by western NSW employers.

We also hope to see in the budget plans to speed up the delivery of promised infrastructure.

Sydney is booming off the back of the NSW Government’s pipeline of projects, but there is a need to expedite the delivery of infrastructure right across the Central West, Orana and Far West.

The NSW Government, backed strongly by the Business Chamber, made the right decision to raise substantial funds through asset recycling.

There is now a need to focus on the timely investment of these proceeds in projects that provide the long-term economic infrastructure required.

Tuesday’s budget should be about keeping NSW number one.

To achieve this, it is essential the budget supports small business, invests more in training and providing skills to the next generation and fast-tracks the delivery of infrastructure in western NSW.

These three areas are vital to improve productivity and economic capacity.

Vicki Seccombe is regional manager of the Western NSW Business Chamber