2012 Victorian and NT Budgets: How your business can benefit

The Victorian and the Northern Territory state budgets were handed down on Tuesday, 1 May 2012, with both labelled as responsible budgets by the Treasurers' offices but 'tough' by media commentators. 

In Victoria, the budget delivered a number of cuts to public sector jobs and WorkCover premiums as well as eliminated the first home buyers grant. Treasurer Tim Wells announced a $155 million surplus and forecast a 1.75 per cent economic growth for the state.

On the business side of things, most business groups supported the budget with nearly 60,000 Victorian firms to benefit from the three per cent cut in WorkCover premiums. This means that effective 1 July, employers' remuneration will fall from 1.338 per cent to 1.298 per cent.

"Victoria already has the lowest workplace insurance premiums in Australia and this cut will strengthen Victoria's competitiveness to attract business investment, reduce costs for business and support economic growth," explained Premier Ted Baillieu.

Other benefits to small businesses include:

  • $58 million boost to the manufacturing sector in an effort to increase productivity and competitiveness;
  • $50 million expansion of the Victorian International Engagement strategy to help businesses grow exports and investment overseas;
  • Providing more small business assistance through an $18 million boost to drive international engagement including $6.1 million for Victoria's Small Business Festival;
  • Increased funding for agricultural companies and food producers to increase production, product development and sales; and
  • $1 billion investment to support economic growth and workforce participation.

Louise Asher, the Minister for Innovation, Service and Small Business, said that the budget would help businesses engage better with growing markets such as China, India and the Middle East.

"Victoria's 495,000 small businesses are vital to our state's economy. The $18 million we have provided in the budget includes $6.1 million for Victoria's Small Business Festival. The festival is an annual program of events held during August which provides ideas and information to small business people to help them start and grow their businesses," Ms Asher said.

In the Northern Territory, the 2012-13 budget delivered a deficit of around $491 million with reduced GST revenues 'hitting the state's bottom line hard'. The budget is focused on creating jobs and investment, according to Treasurer Delia Lawrie, with $1.3 billion in infrastructure spending to keep Territorians employed amid tough economic conditions although this is $200 million lower than last year's budget.

Small businesses will benefit from the infrastructure spending as well as from construction stimulus measures to help grow their operations. These benefits include:

  • Lowest recurrent taxes for SMEs;
  • $100 million towards training and apprentices through support programs for employers in occupations with skill shortages and Work Ready funding;
  • $21 million in state tourism spending, including $21 million for global marketing and promotion, $3.4 million to improve airline access to NT, $1.7 million to attract business events, $1.5 million to grow share of the Chinese market among others; 
  • Funding to develop community infrastructure in regional centres, including $11.7 million for four Trade Training Centre facilities and $7.5 million to upgrade three regional airstrips.
  • $64.9 million in funding to develop industrial land.

"With major projects secured by the Henderson Government set to turbo-charge our economy, Budget 2012 is focused on maximising the benefits for Territory Businesses," Ms Lawrie said.

"Continued huge investment in residential and industrial land and key roads will allow business to grow and reap the benefits of massive private investment in the NT. The Territory Government also retains the title of lowest taxing jurisdiction in Australia for small and medium sized enterprises."

Other state budgets are yet to be announced but the South Australian budget will be released at the end of the month (31 May), followed by the New South Wales budget on 12 June. The Queensland budget will be handed down on 11 September, and the date for the Western Australian budget is yet to be announced.

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