2020 ACT Budget: Chamber calls for more business support, commercial rates review, greater government efficiency

22 October 2019


2020 ACT Budget: Chamber calls for more business support, commercial rates review, greater government efficiency

The Canberra Business Chamber is calling on the ACT Government to make some significant changes in the leadup to the 2020-21 Territory budget.

The Chamber has formally lodged its submission to the ACT Government’s call for input into next year’s budget, highlighting the need for greater government efficiency and more support for Territory businesses.

“With 64% of Canberrans working in the private sector, most jobs and opportunities are now coming from private enterprise. We need to create the right climate that encourages businesses to grow and employ people. We also need a Territory economy that helps build a new generation of local entrepreneurs.” Chamber CEO Dr Michael Schaper said today. “Ensuring we plan properly for the skills we need now and in the future is critical for business growth”.

Dr Schaper said that there were several areas where the Government could act quickly and decisively to improve the business operating environment.

“We can make government more efficient by having just one minister responsible for business-related activities. Right now, there are 37 different ministerial portfolio responsibilities in the ACT, which is excessive. There are four different ministers for business-related areas, but no single person responsible for understanding and championing the needs of business within the Cabinet room.

“We also need to provide all territory businesses and entrepreneurs with access to essential advice services. We’re the only state or territory that currently does not have a free business advisory centre for all existing and would-be business owners,” said Dr Schaper. “Sadly, we also have one of the highest rates of business failure in the country, with more than 3,000 business closures in an average year, and these support services are needed to help reduce that rate.”

“And whilst a lot of welcome attention has been paid to improving amenities in areas like Braddon, many other local shopping and business precincts, like Mitchell, Fyshwick, Hume and Phillip, also need assistance. We’re recommending a pool of small-scale grants to help local business groups improve planting, signage and parking, to make these districts more attractive again to shoppers.

The Chamber is also calling for a review of the controversial commercial rates which are leading to higher rents and reduced property values across the ACT, and for the government to cease relying on deficit funding. “As a community, we need to live within our means,” Dr Schaper said.

The Government has asked for business and community groups to pass on its suggestions for framing the budget by 30th October, to help it prepare the budget that will be handed down early in 2020. Full details of the Chamber’s submission are available online at https://www.canberrabusiness.com/publications/submissions