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BUDGET 2019

This is a strong and responsible budget that delivers a surplus, lowers personal income taxes and invests in jobs, health, education and infrastructure, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

This is the payoff for the community from spending discipline and hard work.

Business has continued to do the heavy-lifting in this budget – which again is proof that when business thrives, Australia thrives.

Revenues from business have underpinned the government’s ability to pay for the announcements made tonight with growing company tax collections projected to reach almost half a trillion over the next five years.

Returning to a serious and credible surplus matters enormously to meeting the cost of the future such as the $100 billion earmarked for much needed infrastructure and sustaining high living standards.

The personal tax cuts for low and middle-income earners will provide relief for families to meet cost of living pressures.

We have got to keep the focus on growing the economy, so these tax cuts and spending promises can be sustained.

As the budget itself warns, Australia cannot afford to be complacent and must better prepare for the global headwinds from a slowdown in China and domestic challenges.

We welcome Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s pledge to pay down the nation’s debt. Both major parties must show the discipline to actually do it. One of the single biggest items in tonight’s budget was the $11 billion net interest bill on that debt – money that could be better spent on the services Australians need and deserve.

The Business Council has been campaigning for a lift in the status of the vocational education and training system and we welcome the government’s commitment to the VET sector and promise to establish a National Careers Institute and a National Skills Commission.

Also welcome, is the promise to create 80,000 extra apprentices and boost literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

The increase in the instant asset write-off for small and medium business and expanding the eligibility to claim it will help drive activity in the business community.

However, it’s the large investment projects undertaken by big companies that creates substantial export revenue, substantial tax revenue, generate activity for thousands of small businesses and creates significant employment, particularly in regional communities.

One of the reasons this budget is in a strong position is because it is built on decisions and investments made by our biggest companies many years ago.

It is disappointing there is no economy-wide signal about the need to fix the investment dilemma Australia is facing with new investment as a share of GDP near 25-year lows. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency to secure the future revenue to pay for budget promises.

The best way to sustainably lift wages growth is to drive investment to improve productivity.

The challenge for successive governments is to stay on track with fiscal discipline, deliver on the promises to pay down debt and get serious about tackling our productivity problems by creating the environment for all parts of the economy to invest and grow.
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