Peak industry body relieved following handing down of Federal Budget
Stuart Lamont CEO CRVA
The Caravan, RV & Accommodation Industry of Australia (CRVA), the peak national body representing the caravanning and camping sector, has expressed relief following the Federal Budget.
"This Budget demonstrates recognition of the importance of tourism to the Australian economy, and though there continue to be concerning elements, this Budget provides a greater level of certainty for our industry, especially given pre-budget concerns around the recent Commission of Audit report," CRVA Chief Executive Officer Stuart Lamont said today.
The Budget, handed down on Tuesday, confirmed that funding to Tourism Australia will be maintained, reflecting the Federal Government's commitment to the industry, with tourism having been identified as one of five National Investment Priorities. In addition, the reconfirmation of the pre-election promise to transfer the T-QUAL tourism accreditation scheme to industry was welcomed.
CRVA also welcomed the retention and indexation of the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme (BSPVES), which maintains the accessibility of sea transport across Bass Strait and the integrity of the National Highway. Abolition of the BSPVES was one of the more distressing recommendations to come out of the Commission of Audit report.
New Trade Support Loans will provide $20,000 HECS-style loans to apprentices working in professions included on the National Skills Needs List - promising news for the trades sector.
"Loans of this kind are a good way to support trade apprenticeships, and CRVA will work with Government to encourage the inclusion of RV trade qualifications in the National Skills Needs List," Stuart Lamont said.
The new Restart program, which will subsidise employers who hire Australian workers over the age of 50, who have been on income support for at least six months, may serve to boost employment opportunities in caravan and holiday parks, RV manufacturing businesses and dealerships.
As identified in a 2013 KPMG industry report, mature-aged workers are already strongly represented in the caravanning and camping industry, with 37 per cent of the trailer and caravan dealing workforce aged 50 years or over, compared to 28 per cent of the total Australian workforce.
Similarly, 59 per cent of Australia's 3,497 Caravan Park and Camping Ground Managers were aged 50 years or over in 2011, almost twice that of the total workforce.
Though there is cause for optimism, CRVA is concerned about measures announced, including the fuel excise and changes to family tax and the pension - changes that affect core caravanning and camping demographics - potentially curbing market demand.
CRVA will also continue to advocate the importance of caravanning and camping to regional Australia; 90 per cent of all caravanning and camping activity takes place outside metropolitan and capital areas, so it is important that regional tourism is not left behind in Government decision making.
Editors note: KPMG was formed in 1987 with the merger of Peat Marwick International (PMI) and Klynveld Main Goerdeler (KMG), and their respective member firms.
Spanning three centuries, the organization's history can be traced through the names of its principal founding members, whose initials form the name KPMG.
Today, the brand is present on all the world’s continents with 155 000 people in 155 countries. Through a worldwide network of member firms, KPMG offers clients the benefits of a global pool of skilled and experienced professionals who possess an intimate understanding of each of their national markets. K stands for Klynveld Piet Klynveld who founded the accounting firm Klynveld Kraayenhof & Co. in Amsterdam, in 1917. P is for Peat William Barclay Peat who founded the accounting firm William Barclay Peat & Co. in London, in 1870. M stands for Marwick James Marwick who founded the accounting firm Marwick, Mitchell & Co. with Roger Mitchell, in New York City, in 1897. G is for Goerdeler. Dr. Reinhard Goerdeler was the first President of the International Federation of Accountants, and was for several years the Chairman of KMG. He is credited with laying many of the foundations for the Klynveld Main Goerdeler merger.
Maggie Tagg, who writes Citadel 'Financial Info on the Go' for GSA, says the key features of this years Federal Budget are:
1. The Budget deficit is forecast to fall to $29.8 billion next year and $2.8 billion by 2017.
2. Retirement age to be lifted to 70 by 2035 and tighter eligibility for certain pension benefits.
3. Eligibility will also be tightened for family assistance, Newstart and Disability Support Pensions.
4. Major spending on infrastructure investment and medical research over the next decade.
The government is planning tax increases for wealthy Australians, a cut to the corporate tax rate and a return to a balanced Budget by the end of the decade.
This year’s Budget contained spending cuts, tax hikes and other measures to counteract the long-term effects of an ageing population.
Maggie says the Government promised it would make 'no major changes', to superannuation or the age pension in the first term and has largely honored this pledge, she says.
Despite the expected increase in the retirement age to 70 by 2035, there are a few 'minor' surprises. The Government plans to index the age pension to inflation from September 2017 to ensure it remains sustainable. At present the age pension is pegged to changes in male full-time earnings which have outpaced inflation, Maggie Tagg said.
In another move unlikely to be popular with self-funded retirees, untaxed superannuation income will be included in the income test for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card for new recipients.
This will put superannuation income on the same footing as income from sources outside super.
Additionally, health card holders will no longer eligible for the seniors supplement from January 2015 in order to target payments to those who need them most, she said.
All pension assets and income test thresholds will be fixed for three years from July 1, 2017 rather than being automatically indexed to inflation each July as they are now.
In a move that will please self-managed super fund trustees the Government has further softened penalities for excess superannuation contributions made by individuals after July 1 2013.
If excess non-concessional contributions are withdrawn from super funds, no excess contribution tax will be payable. Excess contributions left in the fund will continue to be charged at the top marginal tax rate, Maggie Tagg said.
One of themes of this years Budget is the need for shot-term pain to deliver long-term nation building.
The centrepiece of this nation building is an additional $11.6 billion infrastructure growth package.
This will boost total infrastructure investment by the Commonwealth, state and local government as well as the private sector to over $125 billion by the end of the decade.
Key projects include the already announced second airport and WestConnex toll road in Sydney and the East-West link in Melbourne, as well as roads, rail and port facilities around the country, she said.
Looking ahead the Government is treading a fine line on the road to balance the Budget. Too much austerity could encourage households to trim spending and promot business to delay investment plans. This could have a negative impact on the sharemarket, she said.
But not delivering on its pre-Budget rhetoric about the need for tough decisions could lead to a fall in business confidence. A gradual return to surplus over the next decade as the Treasurer promises is just about right - fiscally prudent but not so tough that it kills off economic growth, Maggie Tagg said.
Editors Note: Maggie Tagg is an Associate Financial Planner, who holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning. General.
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