Budget 2017: industry peak bodies welcome direction

ATA, ASBFEO pleased with Budget’s small business focus, ALC welcomes funding for key infrastructure projects

Budget 2017: industry peak bodies welcome direction
Geoff Crouch supports federal government's pro-small business initiatives.


Australia’s small business Ombudsman and transport and logistics peak bodies have welcomed funding allocations in the 2017-18 Budget.

While the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is pleased with federal government’s commitment to continue funding road safety infrastructure programs, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) welcomes the $8.4 billion commitment towards the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project.

ALC also commends the government for allocating $5.3 billion to construct the Western Sydney Airport and $75 million to duplicate the Port Botany freight rail line.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell says small businesses will benefit from the $20,000 instant asset write-off scheme that has been extended to June 30 next year.

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) highlights the government’s extension of infrastructure programs to 2020-21, including:

  • Roads to recovery ($400 million per year)
  • Black spot ($60 million per year)
  • Heavy vehicle safety and productivity ($40 million per year)
  • Bridges renewal ($60 million per year).

ATA chair Geoff Crouch says these projects are "highly cost effective and deliver safety improvements such as truck rest areas, roundabouts and street lights at dangerous places on our roads."

"Meanwhile, the Bridges Renewal Program is upgrading bridges that are critical to truck access to local communities. 

"The 2017-18 Budget confirms that these programs will continue through to 2020-21. Their safety benefits will continue to flow." 

ATA says the $300 million National Partnership for Regulatory Reform will help reduce red tape affecting trucking businesses at the state and territory level so the industry can focus on "safety and productively".

Crouch welcomes the extension of Australian Automobile Association (AAA’s) keys2drive program, which provides free coaching sessions to learner drivers and their supervisors.

The campaign will receive $16 million federal support over the next four years, which is expected to help deliver around 200,000 training lessons. 

Crouch joins Carnell in commending the government for its "small business focus" through the extension of the instant asset write-off program.

The scheme allows small businesses to immediately deduct assets costing less than $20,000 instead of claiming deductions over a number of years.

"The vast majority of trucking businesses are small businesses. Ninety-four per cent have a turnover of $2 million or less," Crouch says.

"The government’s decision to extend the instant asset write-off to 30 June 2018 will benefit many eligible businesses."

The Ombudsman office supports other "pro-small business initiatives" in the Budget including measures that will "require banks to be more accountable and transparent in their dealings with small business and open up competition in alternative sources of finance".

Carnell recommends the government to set the threshold for small business loans at $5 million, bringing it in line with ASBFEO’s definition of a small business loan.

However, the Ombudsman is "disappointed" that the government did not set an example of faster payment times by adopting a mandatory pay time scheme or a national payment transparency register to independently monitor pay terms and practices.

On the other hand, the logistics council is pleased with the government’s focus on infrastructure and says the measures announced in the Budget are a "positive first step in continuing efforts to deliver a safer, more efficient supply chain".

Welcoming the Inland Rail funding, ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says a "reliable port-to-port rail link for freight between Melbourne and Brisbane is the only way we can simultaneously meet Australia’s burgeoning freight task [and] alleviate congestion on existing freight networks".

"To fully unleash the benefits of this project, the line must run to the ports of Melbourne and Brisbane, and comprise efficient rail linkages to the ports of Botany, Kembla and Newcastle in NSW," he says.

"We must also support the development of intermodal freight hubs at appropriate intervals along the route."

"The commitment of $5.3 billion to construct the Western Sydney Airport and the $75 million to duplicate the Port Botany freight rail line likewise bring to fruition critical freight infrastructure projects that will further support economic activity and job creation."

Kilgariff says an additional $11.9 million will help Infrastructure Australia in "assessing projects and producing an infrastructure pipeline".

He says the new Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet must have the "technical expertise required to provide the national leadership which ensures sound infrastructure funding decisions. 

"This includes a willingness to make Commonwealth funding for projects conditional on the implementation of appropriate strategies to protect freight corridors, and minimise urban encroachment on freight infrastructure."

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