VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone has released the peak Victorian employers body's early analysis of the Federal Budget.

"The Budget is squarely focused on reducing the cost and size of government comes as no surprise and VECCI recognises the difficult financial position the government inherited and that the burden of restoring it to surplus must be shared across business and the community," Mr Stone said.

He said some positives for Victorian business included:

  • $1.5bn commitment to East West Link Stage 2, which will deliver jobs and improved freight movement and commuter travel times.
  • The recycling of proceeds from privatisation of government assets into new infrastructure and the creation of financial incentives for the Victorian government to do this.
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  • Confirmation of the previously announced cut to the company tax rate to 28.5% which will reduce the cost of doing business.

"It is pleasing that the Deficit Levy will be a temporary measure only but it is important that the Government sticks to its budget strategy and returns the budget to balance by 2018/19," he said.

"The reintroduction of the indexation of the fuel excise will raise business costs so it is at least a positive that proceeds will be directed into road infrastructure projects that will create jobs and boost productivity.

"Amid the changes to funding for assistance programs for business, there is still an important role for targeted industry assistance with measurable benefits that support industries in transition and/or with export potential, which appears to have been recognised.

"There will be some improvements to tourism promotion at a time when Australia needs to do more to leverage opportunities in the Asia century and particularly with China.

"The proposal to reduce the cap for the Government’s proposed Paid Parental Leave is warranted but given the overall state of the Budget, the scheme is still beyond what is affordable and the levy on big business remains counterproductive."

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), representing the majority of Australia retailers, has welcomed moves in the just-released Federal Budget to get spending under control. Concerns remain, however, over the impact of increased taxes on consumers.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said that while the ARA supports the Government’s reduction in spending to reduce debt, there are concerns over the impact that increased taxes will have on consumer spending and confidence.

“We are only just beginning to see retail and the services sectors regain momentum after many years in the doldrums. It would be a travesty if these tax increases impacted on that recovery to the sector and the services economy.

“The ARA commends the Government on reducing the long-term blow out in Government expenditure through a solid plan which will see supply chain improvements and efficencies through infrastructure spend.

“We commend the Government’s decision to abolish the carbon tax. The ARA has long campaigned for the removal of this unnecessary cost burden to retailers and consumers, and we are confident the decision to finally remove the carbon tax will be music to the ears of business owners.

“The ARA was pleased to hear $1 billion p.a in red tape will be removed – allowing retailers to get on with the job of doing business.

“The 1.5 percent cut on company tax for small business is also welcomed by retailers.

“We are still waiting, however, for a decision to be finalised on removal of the low value GST exemption for overseas goods under $1000.

“The ARA welcomes the establishment of the Industry Skills Fund ($476 million over four years). We will be looking to this fund to assist in the growing skills gap in the services sector, as this sector supports jobs growth. We hope to see the Industry Skills Fund start to bridge the gap between training and employment.

“Moves to support employees in the over 50s bracket to gain jobs could open the door to older workers entering the retail sector.

“Overall, this budget does deliver much needed structural change. What we need to see now is every effort made not to harm consumer confidence further with a clear long term plan from Government to support consumers through future tax cuts and short term support from agencies such as the RBA,” Mr Zimmerman said.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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THE Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) acknowledges the solid support for tourism in the 2014-15 federal budget. 

VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith says the government has identified tourism as one of five National Investment Priorities, and despite tight fiscal parameters the budget contains a number of initiatives to strengthen the tourism sector.

These include:

- $43 million for a new Tourism Demand-Driver Infrastructure Programme;

- $10 million in new funding for the Australia-China Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme.

Ms Smith said she was pleased to see funding allocations for the industry’s key visitor growth market, China.

“Asia-ready product marketing is an issue VTIC has aggressively advocated for and we congratulate the Treasurer on heeding VTIC’s advice on this important issue. I hope that this first budget from the Abbott Government is an indication of its ongoing commitment to the tourism industry, which is set to be one of Australia’s economic growth engines over the next 20 years. This includes vital infrastructure support,” says Ms Smith.

Also welcome is the decision to freeze the Passenger Movement Charge and provide multiple entry three year Visas for Chinese business visitors.

“Importantly the budget reaffirms the government’s funding support for Tourism Australia which is vital to ensuring Australia’s tourism marketing capitalises on emerging opportunities in the competitive global marketplace,” says Ms Smith. 

“With almost 1,000,000 jobs linked to Australian tourism, this support comes at an important time in the sector’s continuing development.

“The budget’s focus on developing tourism infrastructure, improving visitor experiences and raising tourism visitor expenditure is appropriate.

“It also complements recent announcements in the Victorian state budget that are focused on enhancing tourism marketing and improving visitor amenities.”

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The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice. Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.1 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 201,000 people.

www.vtic.com.au

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the seasonally adjusted rise (0.1 percent increase) in monthly retail trade figures (month-on-month) reported today by the ABS followed a 0.2 percent rise in February 2014.

Year on year retail growth also rose 5.6 percent in March 2014, seasonally adjusted, compared to March 2013 - a hopeful sign that the retail industry may be on the long road to recovery. 

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said March trade results could have been better, but the 0.1 percent increase was somewhat expected after such a strong period of trading throughout January and February.

“Australians love a good coffee and dining out with friends and family, and consumers certainly made the most of the final summer days in March with cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services experiencing steady growth at 1.1% and food retailing at 0.5%.

“Department stores experienced stagnant sales (-0.1%) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing also dropped (-0.3 per cent). We can put this down to the warm March weather, with consumers holding off on purchasing their winter wardrobes and enjoying the sunshine instead. Given the cool change experienced late April, we are hoping to see an upswing in retail spend in April trade figures.

“Turnover rose in New South Wales (0.8%), Queensland (0.2%), Tasmania (0.8%) and the Northern Territory (0.1%). These rises were partially offset by falls in Western Australia (-0.9%), South Australia (-0.8%), Victoria (-0.2%) and the Australian Capital Territory (-0.8%).

“Although retail trade started off strong this year, unfortunately the SME sector is still struggling. Retailers are counting on interest rates remaining low to be able to cope.

“The ARA urges the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to cut interest rates next month given imminent Federal Budget cuts. The RBA’s decision this week to keep the cash rate on hold has concerned retailers and consumers alike, who are nervous about the Federal Budget announcement next Tuesday. We are aware that the Federal Budget announcement will likely result in budget cuts, affecting both retailers and consumers,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

MONTHLY RETAIL GROWTH (February 2014 – March 2014 seasonally adjusted)

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.1%), Food retailing (0.5%), Department stores (-0.1%) Household goods retailing (-0.3%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.3%) and Other retailing (-1.1%). Total sales (0.1%).

Tasmania (0.8), New South Wales (0.8%), Queensland (0.2%), Northern Territory (0.1%), Victoria (-0.2%), South Australia (-0.8%), and Australian Capital Territory (-0.8%) Western Australia (-0.9%) and Total sales (0.1%).

YEAR-ON-YEAR RETAIL GROWTH (March 2013 – March 2014 seasonally adjusted)

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (11.9%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (9.3%),  Household goods retailing (6.4%), Food retailing (4.7%), Other retailing (4.3%) and Department stores (-3.4%). Total sales (5.6%).

New South Wales (13.6%), Tasmania (8.4%), Victoria (6.1%), Northern Territory (5.5%), Queensland (4.9%), South Australia (3.0%), Western Australia (0.5%) and Australian Capital Territory (-0.3%).Total sales (5.6%).

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) decision to keep the cash rate at 2.5 percent has caused concern for both retailers and consumers.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the RBA’s decision to keep the cash rate on hold for the eighth consecutive month has concerned retailers and consumers, who are nervous about the Federal Budget announcement next Tuesday.

“While today’s result was expected, we urge the RBA to consider lowering interest rates in June to provide some relief to struggling Australians. We are aware that the Federal Budget announcement will likely result in budget cuts, affecting both retailers and consumers.

“Although retail trade started off with a bang this year, unfortunately growth is not consistent and the SME sector is certainly still struggling. Interest rates must remain low to ensure that these retailers are able to cope,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said Victorians will benefit from the estimated operating surplus of $1.3 billion following the announcement of the 2014-15 Victorian State Budget today.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA is pleased to see the Victorian Government’s commitment to delivering state-shaping infrastructure (with major infrastructure spend which will assist retail supply chains and consumers) as well as cuts in Payroll Tax.

“With cuts in Payroll Tax for around 39,000 businesses and Australia’s lowest Payroll Tax between $4.7 million and $26.7 million payrolls, along with a strong infrastructure spend and surplus, Victoria remains the envy of other states.

“The ARA also supports moves to make public transport more affordable. It is great to see commuters being able to travel in Zones 1 and 2 for the price of a Zone 1 fare, as well as free tram travel within the CBD and Docklands, which will no doubt encourage shoppers to visit Melbourne CBD and other established retail precincts.

"The ARA commends the Victorian Government as an effective economic manager of Australia and congratulates their drive to lower business costs.

“Retailers will benefit from the Government continuing to reduce red tape and regulation, as well as opposing measures that will increase costs for Victorian small businesses.

“Any boost in infrastructure will see increased employment opportunities, and from a retailer’s standpoint, hopefully result in increased retail sales.

“The airport rail link project will also continue to grow travel to the State’s capital and maintain Melbourne’s reputation as Australia’s retail and fashion capital. The $8.5 - $11 billion rail link under the CBD and connecting to the airport is a significant step in future proofing Victoria.

“The Government’s commitments outlined today are certainly a good sign for Victorian retailers’ logistics, business costs and customers,” Mr Zimmerman said.

 
Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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Chief Executive Mark Stone says VECCI welcomes the strong infrastructure focus of the budget that will create jobs and support the Victorian economy to grow.

"The budget provides important funding for East West Link Stage 2 as well as funding to progress the Melbourne Rail Link project, both of which will create jobs and are key to enhancing the capacity of Melbourne’s transport system," Mr Stone said.

"Employers will welcome the reduction in the payroll tax rate which keeps Victoria’s taxes competitive against other states and reduces the cost of doing business.

"In delivering these measures, the budget remains fiscally responsible with projected budget operating surpluses averaging $3 billion per year over the forward estimates period. Net debt is predicted to fall, which will ensure Victoria retains its AAA rating as a stable and low risk destination for new investment.

"Also positive is additional funding to: attract major business events, support tourism marketing, and advance the ‘Food Into Asia’ action plan.

"It is a budget that will build on Victoria’s relatively strong financial position, progress important infrastructure projects and provide tax relief for business.

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) welcomes measures to support tourism in today’s budget, but is disappointed the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) expansion was not catered for.

“Tourism creates jobs and delivers economic prosperity to communities across the state and as one of Victoria’s most significant economic drivers, it is pleasing to see the budget provide for several industry priorities,” says VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith.

“VTIC and its industry colleagues have championed these causes for some time and congratulate the State Government for making them a priority in the budget.”

Intrastate marketing, regional tourism products and an international aviation attraction were among the tourism-related initiatives to receive funding.

However Ms Smith says VTIC urged the State Government to include expansion of MCEC in its self-described “infrastructure budget”.

“The industry is disappointed that the State Government has not allowed for MCEC’s expansion at a time when infrastructure was a significant focus of the budget,” says Ms Smith.

“An investment in business events is an investment in high yield economic activity, which is vital to boost the soft employment market in tourism and allied industries.

“Should Melbourne continue to lose its grip on the international events and exhibitions market, the economy will suffer and jobs will be lost.”

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The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice.

Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.1 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 201,000 people.

www.vtic.com.au

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VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone said the organisation welcomes today’s announcement by the State Government of a cut to the payroll tax rate to 4.85% from 1 July 2014.

"VECCI has consistently called for Governments to do what they can to reduce the cost of doing business and today’s announcement will benefit 39,000 employers and their 1.6 million employees, with a total saving of over $234 million for business over 4 years," he said.

"While ensuring Victoria retains the second lowest payroll tax rate in Australia, this cut to payroll tax also means that Victorian businesses with a payroll of between $4.7 million and $26.7 million will now pay the lowest payroll taxes in Australia.

"With lower costs of doing business delivered by this payroll tax cut, Victorian employers will receive a boost that helps stimulates growth and increases the incentive to employ more people. 

"Combined with the major infrastructure announcements and a strong budgetary position underpinned by the forecast surplus of $1.3 billion, the attraction of doing business in Victoria will be enhanced by this payroll tax cut."

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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THE Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) congratulates the competition watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for its launch of legal proceedings against Coles for its alleged treatment of 200 suppliers.

The ACCC issued proceedings in the Federal Court based on allegations the retail giant engaged in unconscionable conduct under the unconscionable conduct under the Active Retail Collaboration program which Coles established in 2011. The ACCC will argue that the behaviour of Coles breached Australian Consumer Law.

COSBOA Executive Director, Peter Strong today said that the behaviour of large retail companies has been a huge issue for the small businesses of Australia for a very long time.

COSBOA congratulates the ACCC on having the strength to undertake this legal campaign. We acknowledge their decision to take this very important action especially against a company with significant resources.

“This action by the ACCC sends a strong message to the supermarket and retail sectors. It says that regardless of your size you will be held accountable for your actions and the affect this has on businesses everywhere,” said Mr Strong.

In a statement released today, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said, “The conduct of Coles alleged by the ACCC in these proceedings was capable of causing significant detriment to small suppliers’ businesses. This could have resulted in these businesses becoming less able to plan and less able to innovate in the market, with resulting reduced economic efficiency and consumer detriment."

The statement further explained: “The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, injunctions and costs."

These proceedings arise from a broader investigation by the ACCC into allegations that supermarket suppliers were being treated inappropriately by the major supermarket chains. That broader investigation is continuing.

"The matter is listed for a directions hearing in Melbourne on 6 June 2014.”

 www.cosboa.org.au

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Chief Executive Mark Stone says VECCI welcomes the State Government’s announced $30 million package to support workers in the automotive industry and supply chains impacted by the announced closures of automotive manufacturing operations in Victoria.

This initiative complements the recently announced $155 million in funding by the Federal Government, in conjunction with the State Government, with specific state measures to support affected workers and their communities to reskill and secure meaningful employment in allied industries.

"We are pleased to have been involved in this initiative through the Premier’s roundtable on the transitioning automotive industry, as a skilled workforce is vital to the overall strength of our economy," Mr Stone said.

"We applaud the State Government for prioritising measures to create a smarter Victoria and look forward to the confirmation of funding in the 2014 – 15 state budget."

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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