THE ELECTION: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
IT MUST surely be deemed cruel and unusual punishment to have a 56-day federal election campaign inflicted on us immediately after enduring all the flim-flam, verbiage and “expert” prognostication surrounding the Federal Budget. However there is one great advantage to the shenanigans associated with the process that enables us lucky Australians to have a say in the way we are governed. By the time all the stunts, picture opportunities, spin-doctoring, posturing and general windbaggery have ground to a halt on July 2, no one should be able to legitimately complain they are in any doubt as to where candidates stand on the issues that are important to them. The “what’s in it for me?” test, sometimes described as the hip pocket nerve, is one way of deciding what issues are important for us and already there is clarity on the issue of business tax. The Coalition is offering progressive tax cuts for small businesses with turnovers of up to $10 million. The Labor Party, to its credit, has not attempted to fudge the fact that it will confine the lower tax rate to businesses with turnovers of $2 million or less. For the travel and tourism industry, overwhelmingly comprised of small businesses, the choice is stark. On the personal taxation front, the meagre cut offered to those earning over $80,000 introduced in the Budget seems unlikely to have much impact on voting intentions but it is a sop to stemming bracket creep and will go some way to underpinning disposable incomes and consumer confidence. On the other hand, yet another round of extensive changes to superannuation – however justified some measures may be – carry the risk of undermining the confidence of retirees, one of the industry’s most important market sectors. This is especially true of the startling (for a Coalition Government) decision to introduce an element of retrospectivity. On wider industry issues, we have entered the election campaign with Tourism Australia funding intact and no increase to departure tax. However the costings of both sides seem to be based on optimistic revenue projections and the industry should be seeking ironclad guarantees that things won’t change after the election if (when?) these projections fall short. And there is one “hot button” issue the industry should be pursuing relentlessly through the hurly burly of the election, and that is the now deferred “backpacker tax”. We need to persuade our politicians to drop this “Not Welcome” sign to the lucrative youth market on a permanent basis.