The region’s peak business advocacy organisation, Business Illawarra, has today welcomed a state budget that contains a significant investment in electricity generation within the region and has claimed a series of wins, with initial funding for major road upgrades that have been the focus of strong advocacy by the organisation and its members.
Against an improving financial position for the NSW Government, driven by significant stamp duty receipts off the back of an intensifying housing boom, it appears that the state bottom line has weathered the pandemic storm and is projected to return to surplus in 2024-25.
“This better-than-expected state budget position would not be the case without the cooperative handling of COVID-19 within the state, and Business Illawarra pays tribute to our local health district, our frontline clinicians, affected businesses and the wider community,” said Adam Zarth, Executive Director of Business Illawarra.
“However, Illawarra businesses in sectors such as hospitality, tourism, construction, aged care and disability support are experiencing pronounced workforce capacity issues, so we need a roadmap for the borders to reopen and for the community to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
“Business Illawarra welcomes the funding of a pilot plan in the budget to return international students to the state, which would benefit the Illawarra given the significant contribution of international students to the local economy, its workforce and the community.”
EnergyAustralia’s proposed dual fuel gas-hydrogen power station Tallawarra B in Yallah received $67.6 million in the budget, as part of a three-way co-investment with the Commonwealth.
“It is great to see funding in the budget for Australia’s first net zero emissions hydrogen and gas power plant, which will come online in 2023-24 and provide a source of reliable and secure energy for local manufacturers and energy-intensive businesses ahead of the closure of the Liddell power station,” said Mr Zarth.
Key measures for Illawarra businesses 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 Illawarra and its state counterparts, saving businesses an average of $34,000 per year; and
- The continuation of a $1,500 rebate scheme to help small businesses recover the costs of NSW Government fees and charges.
Funding for the NSW Small Business Commission to deliver a support program in partnership with TAFE to assist small businesses with their tendering skills.
“Small businesses across the region will be relieved at the continuation of payroll tax measures, which will allow many of them to hire that extra staff member and avoid the additional administration involved as well,” said Mr Zarth.
“Our region benefits from funding for significant road projects that will grow and benefit our economy by providing greater access to Port Kembla, the CBDs of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Albion Park and Nowra, and more rapid transit between them,” said Mr Zarth.
“This budget contains the committed planning funding for the Picton Road Motorway that we campaigned for throughout last year, together with our members, with $14 million this year as part of $44 million committed over four years.
“We will work with government to inform this planning, and once it is completed we expect to see major funding for construction and, ultimately, a major improvement to the safety and connectivity between our region and Greater Western Sydney.”
“As announced yesterday, complete funding of $300 million for the Mount Ousley Interchange that we have also advocated for has now been committed by both state and federal governments, and we see that starting to flow in this budget with $6.3 million to finalise planning.”
“Other key projects funded in the budget include the Princes Highway south of Nowra to the Victorian border, the Nowra Bridge, and funding to complete the Albion Park Rail Bypass and the Berry to Bomaderry upgrade to the Princes Highway.”