11 May 2021

Tonight’s Federal Budget contains large spending measures that will boost small businesses, support key industries across the Illawarra and aid the region’s ongoing economic recovery, according to the region’s peak business advocacy organisation, Business Illawarra.

Importantly, the Commonwealth has used the rapid recovery of the budget bottom line to address the underfunding of the aged care sector and to increase spending on childcare, which will benefit two of the largest employing sectors in the Illawarra and all the local families that rely on these services.

Executive Director of Business Illawarra, Adam Zarth, said that the region also scored a major win as part of a significant national infrastructure spend that includes $740 million for transformative road projects across the Illawarra-Shoalhaven.

“We have all worked hard to manage the pandemic in Australia, and are being repaid with an rapid economic recovery that can support a big-spending budget containing measures that will see businesses grow across the Illawarra,” said Mr Zarth.

Regional infrastructure
“The funding of the Mount Ousley Road Interchange is a regional highlight, with $240 million to complete the funding of a vital road project that is the gateway to our region and follows $21 million from the NSW Government, which we worked hard to secure with our members the University of Wollongong and NSW Ports.”

“Aside from the $48 million in annual economic benefit that our 2018 research identified, this project, together with the $500 million set aside for the Princes Highway upgrades between Jervis Bay Road and Sussex Inlet Road, is a win for community safety.”

Business incentives
“It is time to let the private sector resume its role as the driver of growth in the Illawarra economy and the Budget supports this through both the extension of the temporary full expensing measure, which allows businesses to deduct the full cost of eligible assets up front, and the loss carry back provisions that allow them to write off COVID-19 losses against previous profits.”

“Combined with the extension of the low and middle-income tax offset, which provides rebates of up to $1080 to eligible workers, these measures will keep us out there spending in the Illawarra economy which will ensure our recovery continues.”

Aged care and disability support
“The Budget includes a long-awaited, lasting response to the underfunding of the aged care sector, with a dual boost to both home care packages and the daily subsidy for residential care. Additional funding to the National Disability Insurance Scheme will ensure our members in that sector, their employees and clients can feel more secure in their funding arrangements also.”

Digital economy
“As a knowledge economy that thrives on innovation we also welcome the announcement of a $1.2 billion for the Digital Economy Strategy that contains a range of measures to support digital skills and $130.4 million to improve digital connectivity in regional, rural and remote communities.”

“However, we caution that significantly more funding may be required to address capacity pressures resulting from migration to regions like ours due to the pandemic.”

“Of course we can’t deliver our region’s now-enviable infrastructure pipeline without the workforce, and with skilled migration limited by border closures our members are concerned about a shortages of key workers across a range of sectors, including construction and hospitality.”

“To this end, the government has doubling its commitment to the JobTrainer Fund, which will support new training places to upskill job seekers and young people, at the same time creating more than 170,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships.”

“The Illawarra’s potential as a future energy hub is clear, given its substantial industrial and associated infrastructure as well as its technically skilled workforce and proud history in mining and manufacturing.”

“While the budget contains funding of $275.5 million towards the development of four hydrogen hubs, Port Kembla is not yet identified as one by the Commonwealth and so we will continue to advocate for this to happen. We do welcome the Federal’s Government’s $5 million contribution to support Energy Australia’s Tallawarra B project as a welcome investment in our clean energy future.”