A Budget Focused on Infrastructure, Jobs and Skills

The 2018 Budget rightly puts the focus on jobs and skills and highlights the importance of setting sound economic fundamentals by returning the budget to surplus earlier than anticipated, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

AFGC CEO Ms Tanya Barden said that the Government’s efforts to return a Budget surplus a year earlier than predicted should be acknowledged while also welcoming the range of budget measures aimed at stimulating employment growth, enhancing skills and training and investment in vital public infrastructure.

“The Government is taking action to achieving a surplus of $2.2 billion 2020/21, reducing the uncertainty for business which undermines the confidence and investment essential to underpin jobs and growth,” said Ms Barden.

“The Government has recognised the need to establish and then build ongoing Budget surpluses without resorting to increased taxation that would dampen business and investment confidence and consumer spending.”

“The tax cuts for low to middle income earners should also support retail spending which should have flow on benefits up the Fast Moving Consumer Goods supply chain.”

“For the food and grocery and agri-food sectors which are spread across the length and breadth of the country, the significant boost in infrastructure planning and delivery is essential for developing supply chain solutions that create world leading, efficient channels to market.”

“The Government’s announcement of $225 million to improve the accuracy of GPS in Australia may greatly assist and improve High Performance Vehicle Road Mapping about which several AFGC members have raised concerns.  It has been difficult to get accurate maps that show the smaller local roads and led to some uncertainty about what vehicles are allowed in the ‘last mile’ to a delivery.”

“This Budget’s investment in upskilling our workforce is welcome, given that the $127 billion food and grocery sector is becoming increasingly specialised in the physical manufacturing as well as the computing and software technologies that control processes. These funding programs will assist companies meet the skill workforce needs of modern manufacturing.

“While the sector welcomes an ongoing commitment to establish globally competitive taxation rates, and that continuation of the SME instant write off is good for small manufacturers and suppliers, disappointingly this Budget does little to help mitigate high energy prices or stimulate investment in food and grocery manufacturing.”

“Continuing to stimulate investment in manufacturing site modernisation is critical particularly in light of mounting input cost pressures. We are now in danger of drifting into a low investment trap, where uncertainty about return on investment flowing from retail price deflation and rising costs are seeing investment decisions deferred or dumped.”

“AFGC continues to support a targeted investment allowance to bring forward investments in Australia, to retain jobs and businesses here, particularly in regional areas where approximately 40 per cent of the sector’s jobs are located.”

“AFGC supports the renewed focus on sports participation which recognises the importance of promoting active and healthy living. These programs complement the Government’s ongoing investments in the Healthy Food Partnership and Health Star Rating Labelling scheme, which industry is a key partner,” concluded Ms Barden.
AFGC Media Contact: James Mathews 0407 416 002