By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

Liquor industry bodies have welcomed the 2017 Budget for the most part, which has revealed decisions that will mainly affect the industry positively.

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) have given their support to the 2017 Budget, which has confirmed reforms regarding the wine industry signalled by the Government last year.

“Funding of these important reform measures will place the wine industry on a firm footing to continue to grow important export markets, and correct previous over-supply in the industry,” said Tony Battaglene, CEO of WFA.

“The industry is in consultation with Government on implementation details relating to the Cellar Door Grant and the draft legislation changes, but we expect that by the end of 2017, the Australian wine industry will be celebrating certainty after a protracted period of upheaval.”

The WFA also welcomed the Government’s announcement of the investment in an inland freight railway, which will aid the industry “to get our products to market and to bring Australian and overseas tourists to our wineries.”

The largest impact to be felt by the liquor industry from last night’s Budget, will be to pub groups hiring overseas cooks and chefs on working visas. Besides the tightening of restrictions placed on foreign workers with the replacement of the 457 visa with Temporary Skills Shortage visa, – already a cause for concern – a new levy has now been added to the visa.

Businesses with a turnover of under $10 million will pay a one-off $3000 payment for any overseas worker they sponsor for a permanent skilled visa, and an annual levy of $1200 for every year that that person is employed with them. For businesses with turnovers of more than $10 million annually, those numbers jump up to $5000 and $1800, respectively.

Stephen Ferguson, CEO of the Australian Hotels Association, told TheShout that while the added levy was disappointing, the funds from it will at least be used to address skill shortages.

“We worked very hard to ensure that chefs, cooks and hotel managers remained as categories on the temporary skilled visa program, and we’re pleased that that happened. However the government has taken a ‘whole of Australia’ approach in increasing fees and general tightening up of eligibilities of those visas. While we’re disappointed with those increases, we think that the alternatives could have been far worse, and the redeeming feature is that all the money will be applied to training Australians in the skills we need, rather than consolidating revenue.”

The new levy will finance the new Skilling Australians Fund, which will subsidise apprenticeships in the areas of employment where skilled migration is currently necessary.

Ferguson also welcomed the roll-on of the tax write-off of up to $20,000 worth of assets for small businesses with turnover of less than $10 million, stating that it was “very pleasing, especially in the hotel sector.”

MGA Independent Retailers believe that the Budget has delivered a number of positives, which will assist Australian economic growth and help small businesses to remain competitive.

“Our members employ over 115,000 people all over Australia and this positive budget will assist them with their continuous challenge to remain viable, grow their businesses, compete against the chains and employ more people, all the while operating on razor thin margins," said Jos de Bruin, the CEO of MGA.

“Perhaps one of the most welcome aspects of the Budget for small businesses is the extension of the asset write off of $20,000 for businesses with a turnover of $10 million or less. In addition there is a $100 million incentive for the States and Territories to cut red tape in small businesses," he said.

“The Budget 2017 has produced a number of opportunities that will lead Australia forward towards a more prosperous economy, not the least of which are the promising opportunities for our members that will provide them with confidence for their future growth.”

De Bruin continued: “We hope that after the passage of this Bill though the Lower House, the next stage through the Senate will be a smooth one. We know there will be some hurdles to overcome but we hope that a majority of senators will recognise that the proposed changes will result in efficiency, innovation and healthy competition, enabling all Australians to benefit from the reforms.”


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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