Douglas leaders respond to state budget announcement


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The Queensland State Government budget, brought down yesterday by Treasurer Jackie Trad, comprises a number of positive elements for the Douglas Shire, according to three leading voices.

Douglas Shire Mayor Julia said she welcomed the government’s commitment to growing tourism, highlighted by the $2.9 million for the Mowbray North section of the Wangetti Trail, which is shaping up to be a world class ecotourism experience.

Liz Ross, president of the Douglas Chamber of Commerce, pointed to small businesses with a wages bill below $1.3 million not needing to pay payroll tax.

“This is up on the previous figure of $1.1 million. So this is really good for those small operators who are the backbone of all our towns and business centres.”

And Wendy Morris, chair of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, concurred that the payroll tax concessions for regional business will help all businesses, but especially tourism in the north.

“As a regional tourism area, we look to the state for infrastructure investment and marketing support.

“We’re very pleased to see the confirmation of $30.5m over two years for the Wangetti Trail. As well the payroll tax concessions for regional business will help all businesses, but especially tourism in the north.

“We’re currently rolling out domestic campaigns with recent support from the state government and Tourism Events Queensland that we are confident will drive visitation in the short term over the coming months,” said Ms Morris.

Cr Leu also welcomed the $153.8 million announcement towards Tourism Industry Development and said they would be looking at ways to access this funding bucket.

“The state-wide tourism injection appears to be an increase on the previous year and follows a recent million-dollar top up to promote Tropical North Queensland to domestic visitors,” she said.

Cr Leu said there appears to be plenty of projects in there (the budget) for Douglas Shire.

“I have spoken to Cynthia Lui, the Member for Cook, and it is particularly pleasing to see her be so receptive to some of the local community groups and sporting organizations.

“I know the Douglas Shire Community Services Association, Mossman Gymnastics Club, Mossman Golf Club, Mossman Hospital and Mossman State School are some of the winners in this year’s budget.

“It is also fantastic to see the State Government re-affirm their $25 million support for the Mossman Mill, which is absolutely vital to our local economy; and put forward $1 million to start construction on the Newell Beach boat ramp,” said Cr Leu.

She added that Council will benefit from the Disaster Resilience Program and said she was pleased that the Local Government Grants and Subsidies program has been continued.

Ms Ross highlighted the extension to the apprentice and trainee rebate with regard to payroll tax and that this incentive will be extended until 2021. 

“This will give employers, especially in regional Queensland, encouragement to take on apprentices, for example Commercial Cookery.

“This is an area of extreme labour shortage. We need to encourage employers to take on apprentices. Yes, there can be additional work, but isn’t it better to train workers so that they can deliver on what you are looking for as an employer, rather than hoping someone else will train them and you will get them after they have finished their training?

“Commercial Cookery is an essential qualification in a tourism area,” she said.

In expanding on Ms Ross’ point about the importance of small business, the Minister for Employment and Small Business, Shannon Fentiman, said the State Government was committed to ensuring small businesses have the support they need to succeed.

“Small businesses are the engine room of our thriving economy, contributing around $113 billion each year.

“We are continuing to create the right conditions for small businesses to invest, grow and employ with almost $900 million of targeted payroll tax initiatives over the next four years delivered in this year’s budget,” she said.

The following was announced in the budget:

  • Lifting the payroll tax threshold from $1.1 million to $1.3 million of annual wages
  • Introducing a new regional discount rate for businesses who have more than 85% of their employees outside SEQ
  • Introducing a new rebate for employment growth providing a payroll tax rebate of up to $20,000 for businesses that can demonstrate they have increased their number of full time employees
  • Continuing the 50% Payroll tax — Apprentice and Trainee rebate to 30 June 2021.        

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