Peter Malinauskas reveals true colours with anti-business budget

Peter Malinauskas reveals true colours with anti-business budget

Posted on: 14 June 2024

Peter Malinauskas has left South Australia’s small business community out in the cold in his latest State Budget, with energy bill rebates cut and calls for payroll tax reform ignored, despite record tax revenue.

Small businesses across South Australia are suffering through a cost of doing business crisis with many struggling under the burden of higher interest rates, rising rents, skyrocketing electricity bills and increases in wages and the costs of goods and services.

Last Thursday’s State Budget added further pain with the $650 energy bill rebates provided in 2023/24 cut.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition, John Gardner, said despite Labor collecting record tax revenue, Peter Malinauskas failed to entertain payroll tax reform that would assist small businesses by alleviating cost pressure and incentivising job creation.

“The Opposition, along with the South Australian Business Chamber, had been calling for the Malinauskas Labor Government to increase the payroll tax threshold from $1.5 million to $2.1 million and for payroll tax exemptions for apprentices and trainees,” Mr Gardner said.

“Many South Australian businesses are doing it tough right now, with reports almost every day of another venue closing its doors. Payroll tax has a direct impact on a business’s ability to operate and grow, particularly for those in industries where payroll is the most significant cost, so we’re disappointed there’s been no reform.

“Energy costs are also one of the biggest concerns for South Australian small businesses, and we are paying some of the highest energy prices in the world. Instead of providing relief, Peter Malinauskas has cut energy rebates all together.”

Shadow Treasurer, Matt Cowdrey, said payroll tax reform should have been a priority in a period when South Australia has the unwanted title of having the highest unemployment rate in the country and small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open.

“South Australia has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and the Premier’s own budget papers forecast near historic lows for economic growth and employment. It seems every week we learn about more South Australian small businesses who have been forced to take the difficult decision to walk away. Labor had an opportunity to keep small business in the game, but instead they were ignored,” Mr Cowdrey said.

“Peter Malinauskas has raked in record tax off the back of South Australia having the highest inflation rate in the country and lifting the payroll tax threshold is a sensible measure to help South Australian businesses keep up with wage increases and keep workers in jobs.

“The former Liberal Government lifted the payroll tax threshold during their last term but because of out of control inflation many small and family businesses have found themselves either reducing staff to avoid paying payroll tax or they’ve started to pay it for the first time.”

Shadow Minister for Finance and Tax Reform, Heidi Girolamo, said despite Peter Malinauskas promising to be a “pro-business” Premier, almost every decision he’s made so far has been anti-business.

“Our suggested payroll tax changes would have taken pressure off small and family businesses as well as encourage the take up of apprentices and trainees which are desperately needed across the state,” Ms Girolamo said.

“If Peter Malinauskas continues to ignore these calls, a Speirs Liberal Government is committed to lifting the payroll tax threshold.

“The snubbing of small businesses in last week’s State Budget is the latest in a string of anti-business decisions by Peter Malinauskas.

“In his first two years we’ve seen him roll out the red carpet for the CFMEU risking increased building and construction costs for South Australian businesses, increase Return to Work premiums and just this week introduce anti-business industrial relations reform.”