LARGE funding cuts and changes have been announced in the latest federal budget, in an attempt to repair the $29.8 billion budget deficit and return the budget to a surplus of $1 billion by 2018.
To help industry on its way, the federal government is investing $1 billion in Tasmania to fund major projects across the state, with a focus on economic growth and jobs.
One of the larger projects for Tasmania is the Midland Highway infrastructure initiative, with $400 million announced to improve safety and efficiency of the highway, and accommodate the forecast increase in freight and passenger movements.
The $38 million upgrade of the Hobart International Airport will include the runway being extended by up to 500 metres, allowing it to become Australia’s gateway to the Antarctic and allowing for international flights directly into Tasmania.
Funding to upgrade the iconic Cadbury factory will boost tourism by restoring the famous visitor tours.
Work on the factory will create 200 new jobs and a further 120 indirect jobs by 2017 as well as helping to secure 600 existing direct jobs and 340 indirect jobs.
Tasmanian farmers and producers will also benefit from funding of $100 million for research and development, $15 million to help small exporters with export costs and $8 million to improve access to agricultural and veterinary chemicals.
Other funding includes $2.7 million to establish the Tasmanian Major Projects Approval Agency for Launceston that will speed up regulatory approvals and encourage private investment in the Tasmanian economy, $5.2 million for improvements to the Bell Bay intermodal terminal and $20 million to build a stronger biosecurity and quarantine system.
Chief executive officer of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Michael Bailey said at face value, business appeared to have gotten off lightly in a tough and revolutionary budget.
‘‘The opportunity is there, we now have to ensure our investors and companies that have been waiting for an improved environment grab the opportunity to develop and expand,’’ Mr Bailey said.
‘‘The TCCI will be working closely with the business community and government at all levels to help facilitate expansion and jobs growth — it’s a massive opportunity for business but an even bigger responsibility to make the best of an opportunity.’’
There will be a 1.5 per cent reduction of the company tax rate from July 1, 2015 in a strategy to assist small business growth.
For larger business, the reduction will offset the cost of the parental leave levy — 1.5 per cent levy to be introduced from July 1, 2015.
Another initiative announced was the restart program, which provides up to $10,000 in federal government assistance, available to individual employers who take on job seekers aged 50 or above.
The restart grant, which will start on July 1, 2014, will be available to all employers in conjunction with the Tasmanian Jobs Program, which already provides a payment of up to $3250 for businesses that employ job seekers (who have been out of work for at least six months and are at risk of long-term unemployment) in full-time positions for at least six months.
Temporary budget repair levy for personal income greater than $180,000 per annum
The federal government will impose a 2 per cent levy on individuals with taxable incomes above $180,000 per annum.
The levy will apply for three years, from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017, and is predicted to raise $3.1 billion in revenue.
To prevent high-income earners from utilising fringe benefits to avoid the levy, the fringe benefit tax rate will be increased from 47 per cent to 49 per cent for April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2017.
Some of the more contentious changes in health and welfare may be rejected by the Senate.