ACT Budget 2012-13 Summary
The ACT Government today handed down its 2012-13 Budget. ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr outlined how the Government planned to run a $318 million in 2012-13 deficit in the nation’s capital in keep Canberra’s economy out of recession.
The Budget forecasts the current financial year will end with a deficit of $125 million, which was criticised by the ACT Opposition, saying the figure was more than three times the deficit predicted in last year’s Budget.
The latest Budget papers showed the Government forecasted a deficit of $318 million in 2012-2013; $130.2 million in 2013-2014; and $51.3 million in 2014-2015.
The full Budget papers and the Treasurer’s speech are available at:
As new General Manager of the AHA ACT Branch, I attended the industry Budget lock-up at Rydges Lakeside this afternoon and received a full briefing on the fiscal elements relevant to the local hospitality sector. The major elements are outlined below:
Payroll tax cut
In a boost for local business, including the hospitality and tourism sector, the ACT Government has increased the payroll tax threshold from $1.5 million to $1.75 million for 2012-13. This will help reduce costs for many ACT businesses – with about 115 extra businesses, including hotels and restaurants, being totally exempted from payroll tax. The payroll tax rate will remain unchanged at 6.85 per cent.
Changes will begin from July 1, and will provide a tax cut to about 1,865 businesses in the ACT.
The Government says businesses with a payroll of $2 million will pay around $17,000 less per annum in payroll tax.
The payroll tax cut was part of the Government’s major tax reform package to overhaul the Territory’s taxation system.
Treasurer Andrew Barr said the Budget included a suite of major reforms to make taxes “fairer, simpler and more efficient”.
Manuka Oval lights and upgrade
The Government announced that six lights towers, 47-metres high, will be built, with work to begin next financial year.
The Federal Government recently announced $2.5 million in its Budget and the ACT Government has allocated $2.847 million for the lights – totalling more than $5.3 million for the upgrade to lighting for the ground.
This will help to attract night matches at the oval and will provide a welcomed boost to hospitality and tourism in the Manuka/Kingston precinct.
ACT Brand marketing campaign
The Government provided $2.6 million over two years for the development of an ACT Brand, to boost tourism marketing and promotion of the nation’s capital. The initiative is designed to develop a “coherent, cohesive and creative approach to marketing the ACT both nationally and internationally” as a great place to visit, live, study and invest.
The Economic Development Directorate told the AHA ACT Branch that industry would be invited to contribute the marketing project.
A comprehensive industry consultation would be held in the coming months and industry will be invited to participate in focus groups.
On the downside, an overview to industry today presented by ACT Treasury showed that there is forecast to be a $4.7 million reduction in the Government’s advertising and marketing budget over the next four years.
Skilled Migration boost
The Government set aside $2.6 million over four years to streamline and boost the skilled migration process. The On-line Skilled Migration Processing System will help to streamline approval processes for various skilled visas – which are paper-based – through the establishment of a one-stop-shop web portal.
Canberra Centenary events
As part of Canberra’s 2013 Centenary celebrations, the ACT Government has allocated $770,000 for cricket matches at Manuka Oval. The funds will provide the hosting costs for an international cricket match featuring the Australian team as part of the Centenary of Canberra celebrations. It’s estimated that the event – which will be another major boost for local hospitality and tourism – will generate about $180,000 in revenue.
The Government has also allocated $3.1 million for the Canberra Theatre Centre upgrade.
Canberra Convention Bureau funds
The Government has given funds to boost the services provided by the Canberra Convention Bureau. Around $20,000 has been allocated to support Canberra’s effort the secure G20 events, including the development of G20 topic briefs for build-up and side events to be hosted locally.
A further $35,000 has been allocated to employ a Business Development Manager to help grow Canberra’s business market in preparation for the post Centenary period and increased competition.
Red tape reduction
The Government allocated $360,000 over two years to support the Red Tape Reduction Taskforce. The taskforce consists of an expert panel investigating regulatory impediments to business and establish a navigator program to build small and medium enterprises (SMEs) compliance capabilities.
The Government has also abolished land tax on commercial properties from July 1, 2012. Commercial land tax will be transferred to general rates to simplify the system and reduce red tape costs.
Transport and buses
The ACT Government allocated $25 million over four years for improved bus services, which includes the Nightrider service – that provides late night services for passengers – from Civic.
The ACT AHA provided a 100-word media comment on the Budget to The Canberra Times newspaper, which will appear in tomorrow’s paper.