Time to support jobs in our regions

The state’s peak business organisation, the NSW Business Chamber, says regional communities need real assistance from all levels of government to turbo charge local economies and sustain jobs in parts of our state that are feeling the ravages of the crippling drought.

Ahead of today’s Bush Summit in Dubbo, NSW Business Chamber Chief Executive Stephen Cartwright said there are practical steps that can be taken to help these communities.

“Firstly, the Payroll Tax threshold should be immediately extended from $900,000 to $1 million for any regionally based business in NSW,” Mr Cartwright said.

“This would have a negligible impact on the Budget bottom line but provide an immediate incentive for regional business owners to retain and even employ additional staff without a tax penalty.

“Secondly, the Government needs to instruct Infrastructure NSW to adapt the benefit cost ratio process to ensure more regional projects are approved and built.

“Regional citizens were promised 30% of the proceeds from the leasing of poles and wires would be spent outside of Sydney, yet the actual figure is around 19%.

“That’s because the bureaucrats are rigidly sticking to the mandated BCR of 1, but what price do you put on an urgent upgrade of a bridge that could save lives, as well as bringing much needed work to regional towns?

“Also, Local Councils are a huge source of frustration, especially with the time it takes to approve seemingly straight forward Development Applications for business owners looking to expand operations and, as a result, employ extra local people.

“The NSW Business Chamber is aware of a business owner on the North Coast who is looking to build an extra manufacturing shed on his own land that will support 50 new jobs in a region with 20% youth unemployment, but who has so far been waiting for more than 12 months for the DA to be approved.

“So in roughly the same time it took to start and complete construction on the Empire State Building in New York 90 years ago, a business in the bush has to wait for Council to approve additions to his own land. The owner has told the Chamber that if his DA is not approved soon he will be forced to send the work offshore.

“I’ll be raising these and other issues in front of the audience in Dubbo, including with the representatives from Federal, State and Local Governments, because the last thing anyone from regional NSW needs or wants is another talkfest with people saying they understand their plight without actually committing to practical solutions,” Mr Cartwright said.

/Public Release. View in full here.