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$10b at risk, so here's how our government can rescue half a million jobs

Business

Business has urged the State Government to prop up half a million jobs in Queensland by upgrading its payroll tax deferral to a complete scrapping of the impost for six months.

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The Chamber of Commerce and Industry said such a move would support more than 9400 businesses, which employ up to 580,000 people.

The plea comes as Treasurer Jackie Trad forecast the impact from the coronavirus to Queensland’s economy could reach $10 billion, and Westpac changed its national unemployment forecast to 7 per cent, with the likelihood of a much deeper recession.

“With the up-to-date Queensland forecast based on a local contagion rate of 25 per cent attack rate … we will see a $3.4 billion impact to gross state product,” Trad said.

“The is double the impact that we had forecast only three weeks ago.

“Over two financial years, Queensland Treasury is estimating the impact could be as bad as $10 billion.”

The Palaszczuk Government has already moved to help business through interest-free loans and the deferral of payroll tax deferral to all businesses, but CCIQ said that was not enough.

It said the deferral just meant the payroll tax would be accruing for business at the end of the six month period and so it should be scrapped entirely.

CCIQ general manager of advocacy and policy Amanda Rohan said this will give Queensland businesses the support they need right now.

“Payroll tax is a huge burden on business, we have been advocating for changes to it for some time,” she said.

“Implementing a payroll tax freeze for businesses with wages of up to $5 milion will save 9477 Queensland businesses between $472 million and $696 million and support 580,000 Queensland jobs.

“While a deferment provides immediate relief, the current crisis means business need further relief to the direct cash flow pressures they are facing, so they can keep their doors open and staff employed at this confronting time.

“Rather than this money into government revenue let’s see it being kept within businesses to help keep Queenslanders employed.

It also wants the Government to open its wallet in next month’s Budget and ramp up infrastructure spending as well as provide recovery funding, business assistance and grants.

Westpac said it now forecast the tourism sector to contract by 80 per cent and that the economy would have negative growth of 1 per cent in the first half.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Government was aware of how tough it was for Queensland families.

“We know the effects of this outbreak will grow and intensify, and as they do, so will our measures to protect Queenslanders’ health, their jobs and their businesses,” she said.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the $500 million concessional loan facility would comprise loans of up to $250,000 with an initial 12-month interest-free period for businesses to retain staff.

The Deputy Premier said in just two weeks, the initial offer of payroll tax deferral had already been taken up by almost 300 small and medium businesses.

“As the Prime Minister has pointed out, it’s small businesses that are hurting the most, and it’s them we moved to help first with our initial payroll tax deferral earlier this month,” she said.

“But we are seeing this outbreak is having a devastating impact on all Queensland companies, large and small, so now we will extend the offer of a six-month payroll tax deferral to all affected businesses across the state.”

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