"The survey of 205 large and small businesses from across Australia's manufacturing, construction and services industries gave top ranking to the following four budget areas:
- Reducing the company tax rate for all businesses – with 27.1% of businesses ranking this as their leading priority;
- Increasing Government spending on infrastructure – 18.4% of businesses ranked this as their highest priority;
- Bringing the Federal Budget back into balance over the next five years – the top priority for 14.3% of businesses; and
- Addressing current and future skills shortages – 13.2% of business ranked this as their top priority.
"These top priorities have remained relatively consistent over the survey's past five years, but an emphasis on skills, training and apprenticeships is clearly emerging as a priority for business, with the proportion of businesses ranking this as their top priority rising by 5 percentage points this year.
"46 per cent of business leaders give top or second highest ranking to the reduction of the business tax burden. This is an unambiguous expression of support for the Government to stay on course with the proposed phase-down in the corporate tax rate over the coming decade.
"The budget priorities identified by business leaders in this survey reinforce the major policy directions highlighted in Ai Group’s 2018-19 Budget Submission (February 2018).
"Our policy recommendations for this year's Federal Budget support the enactment of the remaining provisions of the Government's Enterprise Tax Plan, which would see a company tax rate of 25 per cent for all businesses phased in over the coming decade. This should be the centrepiece of a program of far-reaching and comprehensive tax measures – including personal tax reform targeted to lower and middle-income households – to support the integrity, equity and sustainability of Australia's taxation arrangements.
"Ai Group also recommends that the Federal Budget include stronger investment in skills, training, apprenticeships and education for our current and future workforce. Continued budget consolidation should also focus on finding efficiencies and investing the savings in productivity enhancing initiatives including on innovation and developing business capabilities.
"Having the right set of policies is vital to encouraging Australian innovation and R&D, in order to improve productivity and competitiveness (and hence incomes and living standards) in the longer term.
"Business will assess next Month's Budget against these priorities and will be encouraging all sides of politics to support policies that underpin the business investment and improved productivity required to lift community living standards," Mr Willox said.
Read the full Survey Results
Graham Turner – 0415 285 320