Sandy Zubrinich, Chair, Sunshine Coast Business Council

“In the first instance, we’d like to applaud the government for reporting a modest surplus and prioritising support for lower-income workers and welfare recipients in this budget. These increases are well overdue and it’s heartening to know that those Australians who need help most, will finally be getting some additional support.

“While improved access to more affordable medical care for all Australians is also welcomed, it’s fair to say that the budget was expected to deliver more to address the escalating cost of living for the average Australian family working hard to make ends meet — particularly on the back of 11 interest rises in the past 12 months.

“The SCBC’s remit is around economic growth, investment, infrastructure and jobs and that is how we review the budget. We are concerned to see that around 140,000 more people are likely to experience unemployment next year and we were hoping to see more support for small business as well as mechanisms to help retain investment in Australia grow the economy outside of net migration and resource prices, and to boost productivity, as these are all essential to stabilise our economy in the years ahead.

“At this stage, it appears there was not much in this budget for region areas and for the Sunshine Coast, in particular. There is no additional support for heavy rail or preparing major infrastructure for the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond, which leaves the onus very much on state and local governments to do so, or we will really be left behind.
“While the significant increases in net migration may serve to increase tax revenue in the long term, it will have to come back to local and state governments to deal with the flow-on effects of providing adequate housing, schools, hospitals and infrastructure to accommodate this population growth. The Sunshine Coast is already experiencing a housing crisis, both in regards to availability and affordability, and increased migration will add pressure on infrastructure unless addressed now — and there is not a lot of evidence that it is, or will be addressed anytime soon.

“It doesn’t take an economist to see that a heavy spending budget — we are told $2 of spend for every $1 of revenue — can only deliver a surplus if the coffers are full, thanks to surging commodity prices and more Australians working more hours, paying more taxes and claiming less unemployment benefits. However, the long-term spending commitments made in this budget do leave us vulnerable in future years, should there be shifts in global demand for commodities and the economic slow-down that many predict eventuates.”

The Sunshine Coast Business Council is the leading regional business advocacy group on the Sunshine Coast. It represents approximately 4,000 businesses through its membership, which includes key national and regional industry groups and their members as well as national and regional businesses.