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Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry launches State election campaign: Stronger Business Stronger Victoria

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the State’s largest and most influential business organisation, today launched its election campaign saying the next State Government must build on Victoria’s strong economic base to grow business and grow jobs.

Victorian Chamber Chief Executive Mark Stone AM said Victoria’s 590,000 businesses contribute a quarter of the nation’s economic output and employ nearly 2.5 million people, making them the undoubted engine room of the State economy.

“Over the past decade the number of Victorian businesses has grown by 16 per cent and employment levels increased 23 per cent. The link is clear: business growth means jobs growth,” Mr Stone said.

In launching Stronger Business Stronger Victoria, Mr Stone called on all political parties to adopt the Victorian Chamber’s 10 election priorities. These are:

  1. Deliver key transport infrastructure projects
  • Build the North East and East West Links.
  • Progress the Melbourne Airport rail link.
  • Commit to a scoping study for Ballarat and Geelong fast rail links with Melbourne.
  • Finalise a site for Melbourne’s third airport.
  • Commence planning for Melbourne Metro 2.
  1. Increase the payroll tax threshold to $850,000
  • Keep Victoria competitive by increasing the payroll tax threshold from $650,000 to $850,000. This will benefit 40,000 businesses and encourage them to employ more people.
  1. Increase apprenticeships and traineeships
  • Fund a public awareness campaign to promote the long term value of apprenticeships and traineeships.  Reintroduce payroll tax exemptions for eligible new apprentices and trainees to help employers recruit and retain more apprentices and trainees.
  1. Maximise local content in Victorian projects
  • Amend Victorian Government purchasing policy to require departments and agencies to consider competitive local suppliers, including SMEs, when awarding contracts valued at $1 million or more in metropolitan Melbourne or for state-wide activities (compared to the current threshold of $3 million or more).
  • Provide $5 million to deliver a ‘Procurement Access’ program to help small businesses understand how to access government procurement opportunities easily and at low cost.
  1. Grow Victorian exports and supply chains
  • Provide $25 million to pilot an industry led ‘Supply Chain Development’ program that encourages large companies to work with small and medium sized regional businesses within their supply chain, assisting them to build new networks and business opportunities, particularly in export markets.
  1. Lift the moratorium on onshore conventional gas exploration
  • Lift the moratorium and work with the federal government to ensure Australian gas fields provide enough affordable gas for households and Victorian business into the future.
  1. Accelerate regional opportunities
  • Fund stage 2 of the Shipwreck Coast Masterplan.
  • Upgrade strategically significant roads, intersections and bridges used by important regional industries like agribusiness in getting their goods to market. 
  • Provide a 25 per cent discount on stamp duty applying to commercial and industrial properties located in regional Victoria. This will save regional businesses around $20 million per annum and encourage businesses to set up or relocate in regional areas.
  1. Advance Victoria’s high value, globally competitive industries
  • Boost the commercialisation of research by providing grants of up to $50,000 per eligible business to partner with a Victorian university to undertake a project to innovate, diversify, improve productivity or take new products to market.
  • Establish a series of ‘Global Best Practice’ seminars to build best practice innovation, research, processes and practices within high growth sectors.
  1. Provide a safe and secure business environment
  • Continue the current program of police recruitment and training to ensure a visible police presence in business areas.
  • Fund Victoria Police to increase the focus on crime prevention and community policing through business partnerships, helping police to better understand business concerns, target crime prevention activities and reduce the likelihood of offending.
  1. Develop Port Phillip Bay
  • Develop a ‘Bay Plan 2050’ to examine future opportunities to develop new shared commercial, residential, recreational, event and tourism uses for the bay, while preserving environmental values, ecology and biodiversity.

“By adopting these policies the next State Government can play a crucial role in keeping Victoria strong and growing,” Mr Stone said. 

Mr Stone said the Victorian Chamber was launching its campaign eight months before the election so all political parties have time to consider and commit to its recommendations.