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The Visual Media Association says the 2024 budget offers little to drive investment or productivity, and says real tax reform looks to have been put off for another day.

Build commnities: Kellie Northwood, CEO PVCA
Budget left printers wanting: Kellie Northwood, CEO VMA

The print employers association also said key growth drivers, including skills training were overlooked, and said details on the big Future Made In Australia Fund were “fuzzy”. VMA was joined in its criticism of the budget by much of the business world.

VMA was seeking various measures in the budget, including a review of the instant asset write-off scheme, efforts to tackle skills and worker shortages, and greater support for improved educational and training outcomes. It was also wanting to see real business incentivisation measures, improvement to the taxation system challenges faced by business, and an appropriately articulated approach to productivity. It said there was little to no action in any of these areas.

Kellie Northwood, CEO of VMA said the miniscule increase in the instant asset write off would do nothing to help print compete, and criticised the lack of attention to skills training. She said, "The VMA supports a priority in policy to local manufacturing and small business support, however we don't believe the Budget offers enough. Whilst appreciating the instant write off being extended, it is such a moderate figure (less than $20,090 to eligible assets) that it is unhelpful for our industry. A more substantial amount to support larger manufacturing capital expenditure, or renewable energy investment support, rather than a $325 rebate, are two examples that would genuinely assist, not only our industry, but all larger manufacturing sectors.

“Skilled labour too remains a significant success inhibitor, however little focus or support was addressed last night. The budget in this regard has left manufacturers, and therefore printers, wanting.”

Fuzziness remains: Charles Watson

Charles Watson, GM of IR, Policy and Governance at the VMA, was also underwhelmed, and said, “Given most of the measures in this year’s budget have previously been announced, last night offered few new announcements or surprises. On balance this budget does little to assist businesses outside the energy sector, or to push national productivity and growth generally.

“However, it appears clever enough to minimise the likelihood for this budget to increase inflation as a result of government spending, at least in the short term. As a result of this budget, it appears the government is resting its credentials, and its future at the polls, on inflation falling and a resulting interest rate cut, before next year’s election is announced. If this bet fails, they are going to have to own the result.”

On the Education and Skills related announcements in the budget, Watson said “The announced measures are welcomed, but in the short term they won’t address the underlying complex web of educational ecologies, or the underfunding that created the current shortage of VET teachers, infrastructure, and apprentices. Any real and systemic improvements are still some years away, and subject to any outcomes from the strategic review of the apprenticeship system that is currently underway.”

The Future Made in Australia policy and spending announcements are aimed at particular industries, including renewable hydrogen, green metals, low carbon liquid fuels, refining and processing of critical minerals and manufacturing of clean energy technologies including in solar and battery supply chains as well as quantum computing.

On the Future Made in Australia budgetary announcements Watson said, “Significant fuzziness on the exact nature of the governments Future Made in Australia programme remains, and greater specificity is required. After many years of Australia’s over-reliance on the importation of cheaply made and inferior quality goods, it seems government has recognised Australia needs sovereign manufacturing. However, let’s hope this is not a diversion of government funding away from other potentially more beneficial programmes for the Australian economy.”

VMA is releasing its 2024 Federal Budget Report this afternoon.

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