Tax cut to boost regional economy

State KAP leader Robbie Katter along with colleagues Shane Knuth and Nick Dametto have proposed a reduction in payroll tax for regional Queensland businesses to kick start the ‘bush’ economy and create jobs.
“It is disappointing Labor has continued to focus their attention on the south east in the current Budget,’’ he said.
“The $5 billion dollar Cross River Rail will get people to work five minutes earlier in Brisbane, that’s great for the people in Brisbane.
“But if you built one in North Queensland no one would use it – because they don’t have jobs to drive to.
‘We haven’t seen one, new piece of meaningful investment from the Budget that will stimulate industry or contribute to wealth creation for regional Queensland.
“The KAP is proposing an immediate reduction in the payroll tax from 4.75 per cent to 2.4 per cent for all regional Queensland businesses and a five year payroll tax ’holiday’ for any new employment of permanent residents of regional Queensland.
“After five years the payroll tax would revert to 2.4 per cent.
“The payroll tax changes are similar to a policy introduced by the Victorian Government to help stimulate regional business and employment growth.’’
It is expected between 2,000 and 3,000 businesses in regional Queensland would be eligible for the reduced rate.
Based on the estimated proportion of businesses eligible for the reduced rate, the approximate foregone revenue is between $150 million and $300 million per annum.
Mr Katter said increased royalties on the back of coal prices, coming from Queensland’s regions, have been a key contributor to the surprise budget surplus this year.
“We would like to see some of this wealth invested back into regional Queensland to help boost employment,’’ he said.
“Latest figures shows the unemployment rate in Outback Queensland sits at 12.6 per cent, double the state average of 6.1 per cent.
“Youth unemployment sits at 54.2 per cent in Outback Queensland – that’s more than one in two kids who can’t find a job – compared to 6.5 per cent in Brisbane Inner City. The state average is 13 per cent.
“People in Regional Queensland are tired of being a key driver for the state’s economy but seeing very little of the benefits of their hard work being returned to the region.
“Having a job means more than just having an income. It makes people feel good about themselves and they know they are making a contribution to their community.
“High unemployment rates inevitably lead to increased crime rates which we are also experiencing in the regions.
“We have seen and heard reports of hundreds of Townsville businesses shutting down every year and house prices have suffered enormous drops in value as people leave the area looking for work.’’
Mr Katter is also calling for First Home Owner’s Grant program to be extended to established homes in regional Queensland and include rebates for home renovations.
He cited data from the Queensland Market Monitor March 2018 report showing Ingham house prices have dropped by 36 per cent over the past five years with Charters Towers not far behind with a 30 per cent drop.
“With the decline in population in our rural areas we are seeing less people choosing to build a new home,’’ he said.
“However, there are plenty established homes available. We see this as a way to encourage locals to stay rather than moving to overcrowded cities, as well as being a drawcard for people to move to regional areas.
“Opening up the scheme to include existing homes and renovations would help drive sales and allow sellers to upscale, contributing to a lift in the entire real estate industry.
“This exodus of people, jobs and businesses from regional Queensland has to be broken. And it starts with jobs, jobs created by local businesses. Jobs will keep people in the regions, jobs will help keep kids off the streets and out of trouble, jobs will give people the confidence to buy a home and put down roots in regional Queensland.’’

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