Federal Budget 2017: 4 big ideas the government could tackle

Among reams of data and endless repetition of the phrase “forward estimates”, the government has the opportunity to lay out some truly big ideas.

Will the government lay out a game plan to tackle some of the most pressing needs in Australia?

Here are four big ideas which could make an appearance in this Budget – and rock the world of Australian small business.

Housing affordability

Housing affordability is a hot topic in Sydney and Melbourne, but what does it have to do with small business?

Any measure that reduces housing prices would be a positive not just for those looking to get into the market, but small businesses as well.

After all, less money spent on bricks and mortar means more money can be spent on goods and services.

Small businesses in mining boom-affected towns, for instance, are all too aware of what can happen when housing becomes unaffordable and the rental market follows suit: it means you have to pay staff over the odds to keep them.

Should the government put in place a coordinated solution to alleviate housing prices, then it could also have a huge effect on tradies.

The government could look at the charges it puts on new home construction while providing extra incentives to build – meaning a bounty of work for tradies and more money for the businesses they spend money at.

The ‘black economy’ and the shift away from cash

What sort of difference would $15 billion make to the government’s bottom line?

According to a government taskforce, there’s a cool $15 billion in payments which occur entirely outside the tax system.

We’re talking things like cash jobs, illegal activity and other money simply not being taxed because people are determined not to pay it.

While the money could be re-invested into social infrastructure such as roads, hospitals or schools, the government’s response could kick-start an important conversation.

Let’s talk about digitising payments, shall we?

Much of the black economy activity works because it’s tied to physical currency – where people can literally hide cash from authorities.

But payments would be easier to trace in a digital system.

Is it time to get serious about a cashless society?

The age of innovation

The government has gone fairly silent on innovation. (For pretty good reason: it missed the mark with the sales message in the first place.)

While those in the startup and innovation space are well and truly on board, others aren’t convinced.

They see their jobs being disrupted and a future that is uncertain.

But it’s vital that the government keeps up.  Since we know that the knowledge economy is going to be the next big economic trend, the government could even bolster the legislative measures aimed at boosting the sector.

Australia can either get on board, or miss the boat.

Can the government take this opportunity to re-frame why innovation is vital to Australia’s future?

Will infrastructure become a mini mining boom?

An increased infrastructure spend could be a feature of this year’s Budget – but what effect does increasing spending on roads and rails have to do with SMEs?

Money into the economy, no matter the activity, has a flow-on effect across all business sectors.

Whether those businesses are suppliers or simply receive part of the wages of those working on projects, small business is primed to reap the benefits – if the government can manage it right.

A major spend on infrastructure, which is project-based work, could learn a lot from how the mining boom was handled.

Australia needs a rational and calm approach to infrastructure rollout.

Otherwise we could end up with another two-speed economy where the economic benefit of the spend will only be felt in the areas where the money is being directly spent.

 

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