The region’s peak business organisation, Business Hunter, has today welcomed a state budget that maintains significant investment within the Hunter region, consistent with advocacy efforts by the organisation and regional stakeholders.
The state economy is rebounding faster than anticipated and is underwriting the Government commitments to continue to fund a range of regional initiatives and projects including infrastructure spending through the COVID recovery, according to Business Hunter.
“This Budget shows that strong financial management continues to position NSW as the powerhouse of the Australian economy as we emerge from this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic,” said Business Hunter Chief Executive Officer Bob Hawes.
“Strong stamp duty receipts through property transactions have meant as a state, we are in a good position to recover strongly. There remains however fragility as the post COVID economic environment contains uncertainty over the re-opening of international borders, the loss of skilled migrants and sectors that continue to lag in the recovery period,” Mr Hawes said.
Key measures for businesses across the state include:
- Ongoing payroll tax relief, the rate of which has been temporarily dropped from 5.45 percent to 4.85 percent for another year;
- The permanent increase to the payroll tax threshold to $1.2 million, in response to calls from Business Hunter and Business NSW, saving businesses an average of $34,000 per year;
- The continuation of a $1,500 rebate scheme to help small businesses recover the costs of NSW Government fees and charges; and
- Funding for the NSW Small Business Commissioner to deliver a support program in partnership with TAFE to assist small businesses with their tendering skills.
“A further commitment of more than $500 million to a Digital Restart Fund will ensure the move from paper to electronic transactions continues at a rapid pace and the State continues to lead the nation when it comes to the digital economy.
“Securing events for regional NSW will bring much needed spending to support the visitor economy – a four-year commitment to a State Significant Event Fund of $200 million is a welcome initiative.
In line with calls made in the Business Hunter pre budget submission, the Government has continued with commitments in the regional infrastructure pipeline including funding for the Newcastle Inner City by-pass, the Singleton and Muswellbrook by-passes, the M1 extension, Hillsborough and Nelson Bay Road improvements, and other subregional road and transport improvements.
“These projects are critical not only for the community but also to improve the freight and logistics framework so we can move goods and people around the region efficiently and effectively – this has been a historical comparative advantage in the region and one that must be maintained Mr Hawes said.
Ongoing funding commitments for feasibility into faster rail between Newcastle and Sydney and the Lower Hunter Freight rail corridor are also welcomed, as is the funding for Special Activation Precincts which should bring benefits to the Williamtown zone.
Business Hunter is also pleased to see the government allocating $164.4 million over four years for the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap. The Hunter region is well placed to feature in future energy industry investment as demonstrated by the regions recognition and a Renewable Energy Zone and Hydrogen Cluster Hub.
“It is also encouraging to see funding for water security given the strategic importance of getting this right and building on program funding announced in the recent Federal budget, Mr Hawes added.
“We still to have challenges ahead in housing, pockets of unemployment and some business sectors not able to re-bound until international tourism recovers however, the relative stability set out in the budget is welcomed and puts a solid economic base in place as we continue in the COVID recovery”, Mr Hawes said.