After the chaos of 2020, the Australian business community has done an extraordinary job of getting back on its feet. But business leaders can always use an extra boost to help them continue driving our country’s economic recovery.
So while it’s pleasing to see the Australian Government stepping up its support, we’re also delighted to see the government addressing many of the other pain points for businesses of all sizes – and for their employees.
This year’s Federal Budget is the most important in living memory, paving the way for the rejuvenation of the Australian economy in the post-COVID world.
It shows real support for the needs of Thrive’s clients who operate across a range of industries including technology, mental health, property and manufacturing. Their response to the budget has overall been positive – mainly because it addresses issues that impact businesses from many sectors and of all sizes.
One of our clients, ANZ's chief economist Richard Yetsenga says the budget has exceeded expectations about the government’s willingness to stimulate the economy, by almost doubling expected additional expenditure to $95 billion: “I think we will get continued good economic growth, falling unemployment. I think business investment will come back.”
Programs such as a $1.2 billion boost to the Digital Economy Strategy will promote technology and innovation within small and medium businesses and demonstrates the Australian Government’s recognition of the important role they are playing in Australia's post-COVID recovery. That includes acknowledging the need to invest in the emerging technologies that will be critical to our future, such as spending $124.1 million to develop the nation’s artificial intelligence capability.
This has been applauded by Ron Gauci, CEO of Australia’s peak industry representative body for innovation technology, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA). But Gauci adds that more can be done to reshape the technology at the core of the Australian health system, saying; “Now is the time to create lasting structural change as a result of setting up a strong and efficient national ICT health backbone and the investment of $500 million will go some way to bringing this to reality.”
At a broader level, significant tax concessions will put more money into consumers’ pockets and stimulate spending to help many sectors, including the retailers who were hit hard in 2020.
At Thrive, we are especially pleased with the initiatives that will help to address workplace inequality. For instance, scrapping the $450 superannuation threshold will significantly improve the retirement prospects for 200,000 Australian women.
As a primarily female-led and staffed company, this is something that we have been following closely. At Thrive, we had already increased our staff super contributions to 10% in January, well ahead of July’s scheduled changes and we also support a continued focus on superannuation and other employee tax benefits.
Also, the $1.7 billion increase in childcare subsidies over five years will make it easier for many women to participate in the workforce – not to mention boosting the early education outcomes for children. While this is a win for the sector, more still needs to be done to improve accessibility and affordability of childcare; this has long been a topic that Thrive has advocated.
As our client Mark Woodland, CEO of software, payments and commerce-enabling solutions, Xplor Technologies (Education), said; “We have an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here. I think this is a great start. We need to empower parents and give them peace of mind that the Government trusts in our childcare centres.”
It’s also pleasing to see the Australian Government stepping in to address some of the structural issues that have led to gender wage inequality in Australia, such as through its $25.7 million investment to help more women pursue careers in science, engineering and maths.
Support for digital skills training is something many of our clients have been asking for consistently in recent years to help them deliver their digital transformation agendas, so an extra $100 million to create a flexible way for workers to build digital skills is very welcome.
And those businesses will also benefit from the extension of the instant asset write-off. The $12.7 million expansion of the Digital Solutions - Australian Small Business Advisory Service program will help business owners make better decisions about their digital investments, and the $15.3 million investment to drive business uptake of e‑Invoicing will take out costs.
These initiatives have been applauded by Libby Roy, Managing Director of Optus Business: “Redesigning business operations to become digital-first takes significant investment for business owners. Financial support from the government will go a long way to ensuring the adaptation and survival of the Australian business community.”
At Thrive, we work tirelessly to support the business goals of our clients, and I’m delighted to see the Australian Government stepping in so decisively to set Australia back on the course to economic prosperity, both by providing the stimulus that business needs to grow, and by addressing many of the challenges that employers and employees both face when it comes to maximising their contributions.
I hope that this budget signals a new era of government and business working closely together to achieve outcomes that benefit all Australians.