Business Hunter believes the NSW 2021-22 State Budget due to be delivered tomorrow, takes on significant importance given the changes being experienced in the state and national economy and the challenges being faced by business and the community in this COVID recovery period.
Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes said that since budget submissions were called for in March 2021, a number of indicators have changed considerably yet the economy continues to display fragile qualities notwithstanding strong trends of improvement in employment.
“Whist Business Hunter put the acceleration of key regional infrastructure projects high in its priorities in the March 2021 submission, there is no doubt that workforce skills and predictability in the supply of labour for business is now the top priority”, Mr Hawes said.
“Furthermore, the housing availability and affordability issues in the community is now colliding with the interests of business in terms of attracting and relocating workers to the region the likes of which we have not witnessed for a very long time.”
“We appreciate that neither the skilled labour supply and housing issues have instant fixes however it is important that government recognise the challenges and that this is reflected in the budget context and the policy and funding settings that follow,” Mr Hawes said.
“The COVID experience has been a real test for government, business and the community and NSW has done an excellent job. NSW is being referenced as the ‘gold standard’ by a number of commentators and observers. We hope this puts the Treasurer in a confident position to continue a range of affirmative action measures that help to stabilise and grow the NSW economy.
Apart from dealing with these contemporary challenges, Business Hunter are expecting the government to continue its focus and commitments on the infrastructure pipeline which includes a number of significant projects in the region including the Newcastle Inner City by-pass, the Singleton and Muswellbrook by-passes, the M1 extension and other subregional road and transport improvements as were detailed in its March 20921 submission. Progress on feasibility cases for faster rail, Hunter Park and energy industry initiatives, particularly hydrogen, will also be eagerly anticipated.
“As the region grows, we are witnessing increasing pressure on infrastructure pinch points and attention to these areas will be important within and following the budget if we are to realise the growth ambitions of the region and its communities,” Mr Hawes said.