QTIC: 2019-20 Federal Budget announcement
Posted on April 3rd, 2019
This election budget, perhaps not surprisingly, offers a broad range of positives, including a boost to consumer confidence from substantial income tax relief for many Australians, which should be good news for domestic tourism.
Some of the headline infrastructure spend will take years to be delivered but is certainly needed and welcome in Queensland. Perhaps one of the most critical areas of new investment for our industry can be found in the boost to education and training. Skill and labour shortages in tourism must be addressed urgently and we will seek clarity on how the new funding will address the current labour and skill challenges for businesses in our industry.
Finally, I draw attention the new tourism attraction program of $50 million which is a specific initiative we have actively advocated for through our national organisation, the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) – a solid win for the industry!
In the list below we have tagged some initiatives with a question mark to indicate that we are still seeking clarification of how an initiative will affect businesses in our industry. We have organised our list under the priority issues that we had identified in our federal election submission.
Is it a sufficiently ‘tourism-focused’ budget? I am sure we still have some way to go, but with your support and by working collaboratively at a national level, including in the lead-up to the federal elections, we will add more wins for tourism businesses in the future.
Invest in the next generation of iconic Australian attractions
√ $50 million over three years to the Tourism Icons Program supporting the development of quality tourism infrastructure.
Grow our gateways
√ $102.8 million in 2019-2020 to upgrade regional airport infrastructure to improve safety and enhance airport access.
√ Additional $11.0 million over four years from 2019-20 to continue the Approved Destination Status (ADS) tourism arrangements between China and Australia.
√ Increase the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa cap for Indonesia, from 2,500 to 5,000 over six years.
? $46.6 million over five years to support the introduction of a Skilled Work and Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa, to replace the subclass 187 and 489 visas.
? From 2022 the Government will look to introduce a new Permanent Resident Visa for Regional Australia.
? Cap of 160,000 permanent migrant places for the next four years.
X Increase the base visa application charge for all visa sub-classes, with the exception of visitor (subclass 600) by 5.4% from 1 July, 2019.
Assist the tourism industry in responding to climate change
? $3.5 billion over 15 years for a Climate Solutions Package to deliver Australia’s 2030 climate commitments. No new initiatives outlined in the budget that have not been previously announced. No additional initiatives to ensure Australia reaches global commitments to climate change targets.
Promote Australians holidaying at home
√ Increases to the low and middle income tax offset and low income tax set and changes to personal income tax thresholds. These cuts will result in increased discretionary spending, including domestic holidays.
√ $2.6 billion to enhancements of Queensland road infrastructure, including upgrades to the Gateway Motorway, M1 and Bruce Highway. Regional roads will also benefit from enhancements.
√ $206.2 million committed to a fourth round of Building Better Regions funding.
Strengthen our tourism workforce
√ Increased focus on Vocational Education and Training. $525.3 million over five years for the Skills Package – delivering skills for today and tomorrow.
? $156.3 million over four years for Additional Identified Skills Shortage Payment – including $4,000 to employers and $2,000 to apprentices made at key milestones. This package will be delivered to the top 10 occupations deemed in shortage. Initially named occupations include bakers, bricklayers, carpenters and plumbers. It is critical that industry has a voice in determining this list and key shortages such as Chefs are included in this program.
? 10 Vocational Education Training Hubs will be piloted in regions with high youth unemployment. This presents a positive opportunity for regional Queensland and areas with growing tourism hubs.
√ $97.7 million over four years for a scholarship program to promote domestic and international students studying in regional locations.
Tourism Quality Framework
X We need a genuine national commitment from the Australian Government to an industry-driven program to develop quality tourism. As a high cost destination, for Australian tourism to continue to compete in a global market we must also be recognised as a destination renowned for the quality and professionalism of our visitor experiences as well as our unique natural and built heritage. To do this, we need to support and assist Australia’s tourism businesses to not only grow but also develop their tourism skills, business capabilities, service quality and digital expertise.
No new or increased tourism taxes
√ No mention of increases to, or the introduction of new, tourism taxes.
Other noteworthy announcements
√ $60 million for Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) over four years.
√ For vehicles acquired on, or after, 1 July 2019, tourism operators are eligible to apply for a refund of any luxury car tax paid, up to a maximum of $10,000.
√ Extension of the instant asset write-off, increasing the instant assets write-off threshold per asset to $30,000. Also enabling medium sized businesses to have access to instant asset write off.
√ $220 million over four years towards better internet and mobile services in regional Australia. Including $160 million for the mobile blackspot program and $60 million to regional internet connectivity.