"Ai Group had called for the NSW Government to substantially improve the competitiveness of the State's payroll tax regime through an on-going commitment to the progressive reduction in the payroll tax rate for all employers. Further tax relief should remain on the table, ideally as part of more broad-based reform to both payroll tax and stamp duty.
"We commend the NSW Government's continued focus on driving investment in infrastructure, including the major road projects across Western and South-Western Sydney and the critical spending on upgrading and building new schools.
"The Budget's quality spending initiatives on regional infrastructure and the additional support for Western Sydney's long-term development are also welcome.
"We stress that in the delivery of these projects, the full and fair opportunities for the participation of Australian suppliers must be a priority. The Government should also ensure taxpayers get value for money throughout the life of infrastructure, and not from just the initial cheapest bids. This means giving full consideration to through-life servicing and support which are key advantages that local suppliers offer.
"The Government's infrastructure program should be used intelligently to shape and secure the State's economic future – by assisting in the deepening of workforce skills and boosting the capability of local industries.
"It requires a workforce that is solidly trained in school and beyond – including in foundation skills; in STEM skills; and in innovative thinking capabilities. We note the Government's decision to create 100,000 fee-free apprenticeships. This is an important initiative that will be well received by industry – as will the funding commitment to employ more trade teachers in the NSW TAFE system. We also urge the NSW Government to address declining investment in VET in cooperation with the Commonwealth to ensure the sector is funded and structured to meet emerging vocational skill needs of industry.
"Ai Group congratulates the Government on adopting a new approach to attracting capital by issuing sustainability bonds to deliver programs that place a strong emphasis on achieving environmental and social outcomes for the benefit of the people of NSW.
"The focus of the new NSW Productivity Commission on making it easier to do business in NSW, as well as improving housing affordability and lowering the cost of living, reflects the importance of integrating economic growth with community and social wellbeing," Mr Goodsell said.
Further comment: Mark Goodsell – 0418 408 871