I hope our members are keeping well and that their business fortunes are tracking to or above plan. We are very excited at the Chamber to have formed a new Executive for the next year ahead. We have a busy and varied agenda over the next twelve months and at every opportunity we will listen and understand from our members what the important things for you are and how we can support you.
The major economic headline over this last month was the State Budget being delivered. At a local level MLA Don Punch presented at a BGCCI breakfast meeting with many of our members in attendance at the Dolphin Discovery Centre. As always, a budget provides an important economic indicator to the health of our state finances and the future commitments of where spending will occur. It was pleasing to witness a forecast operating budget of $2.8 billion surplus for this financial year and the forecast for the State continuing to operate with a positive surplus even as iron ore prices are predicted to moderate over the medium term.
However, budgets are much more than mere numbers, they play an important part of the business confidence cycle, providing business a degree of certainty to invest and structure themselves for future opportunities. They provide a vision for our region and what investments we can expect and align to take advantage of as a business community. As your Chamber we will always scrutinise the budget across the following points:
- does it support a growth plan for our region?
- are we set up for success in the medium term?
- is it addressing labour market issues?
- are we adequately funding social priorities? and
- is the position sustainable beyond this financial year?
Many of the businesses we engage with are feeling the effects of a tight labour market particularly in the skilled sectors. This is placing significant restrictions on them fulling their services and products to their clients and the potential to increase their revenues. It is therefore welcoming to see the budget’s commitment to further building a skilled workforce across TAFE investment, and additional skilled migration. Coupled with the Federal budget’s strong focus on new apprenticeships, upskilling and other job training assistance these initiatives will be crucial for a strong business economy. With Australia’s population growing at its slowest rate since World War 1, we support all moves to gain a safe opening of our borders as soon as possible. We also support the efforts to lift female participation in the workplace by fixing the barriers for women who want to get back to work. This of course creates a fairer society, but it also makes fundamental economic sense.
As a Chamber with our recently formed new Executive, we will take the opportunity to re-group and clearly articulate our strategic intent with a workshop session planned prior to Christmas. It is important as a Chamber with a small dedicated professional team that we focus and deliver on the things that are important to our members and always without shame place our region first. We appreciate the valuable feedback received to date and look forward to engaging with many more of you over the next few months. Our region truly deserves to be shining example to the rest of the country and as a Chamber we will couple with businesses to drive investment, drive productivity, and drive competitiveness and at every stage advocating on your behalf.
Happy Safe Trading.