Peak business groups have hailed the Albanese government’s first budget as careful and cautious, but warn hard work lies ahead to shore up the economy.
Business Council chief Jennifer Westacott said the Labor economic blueprint made the necessary first steps to “steady the ship” and set the groundwork for reform in the May budget.
“This is a cautious and careful budget that avoids making our inflation problem worse,” she said.
Measures such as extra spending on skills, education, child care and expanding paid parental leave were important.
“Our biggest challenge will come in the next three years, and we must do the hard work of reform to drive growth, productivity and restore the national credit card,” Ms Westacott said.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Andrew McKellar said the budget covered the essential elements of economic management and tackling growing cost pressures.
But he said there were considerable longer-term challenges which needed addressing.
Mr McKellar said the one “discordant note” in the budget was the proposed workplace reforms which represented a “seismic shift in Australia’s bargaining system”.
“We are concerned that these changes will drag many businesses into so-called agreements that they do not support and cannot afford.”
PwC chief Tom Seymour said despite Australia staring down a pending storm caused by global economic uncertainty “Australians can take confidence in the fact that our economy is robust enough to withstand such problems”.
“This budget shores up our economic security, kickstarts the commitments made by our new government and demonstrates that the fiscal pressures that were caused by COVID-19 are fast subsiding,” he said.
“Our social services are more important than ever, and with geopolitical sands shifting, our defence costs will need to command a greater percentage of GDP – and as a country we need to be having a national conversation about how we continue to pay for the services we value and expect, such as our health care, aged care, childcare and the NDIS.”
He said tax reform was a “burning platform” for Australia, and growth and competitiveness would remain stifled until it was tackled.
(Australian Associated Press)