Queenslanders head to the polls: What does Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor Party have in store for small business?

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Source: AAP/Darren England.

This weekend will see Queenslanders head to the polls, voting for their pick between the incumbent Labor Party, headed up by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and the Liberal National Party, led by Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington.

It’s a state election that comes in the wake of a COVID-19 crisis which has seen hard times for businesses in the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors. It also comes during Australia’s first recession in decades.

Needless to say, this is a particularly tricky time for small businesses. So, what is the incumbent government promising this sector?

First and foremost, Palaszczuk has said she will deliver a state budget by the end of November.

On the face of it, that might not sound so exciting. But, with the federal budget bringing an unlimited asset write-off, tax changes, and new loss carry-back provisions, it’s possible there could be bonuses for small business in a state budget too.

$140 million for small business

In less speculative news, Labor has pledged $140 million to support what it calls “big plans for small business”.

That includes $100 million for the Backing Queensland Business Investment Fund to support private investment.

A further $30 million is pledged to “increase skills and capability” and $10 million will “make it easier to do small business”, although it’s not clear exactly how.

Speaking at an event in Gold Coast, where the vast majority of seats are held by the LNP, Palaszczuk said she is “absolutely committed to supporting small business across our state”.

“Fundamentally it is about jobs, jobs and more jobs,” she said.

Touting tourism

The Premier also paired up with Tourism Minister Kate Jones to pledge an additional $74 million in COVID-19 recovery funding to tourism operators in the state.

With Palaszczuk unmoving on Queensland’s border policies, tourism businesses have been some of the worst affected by the pandemic.

However, only $4 million will go directly to businesses, to “deliver business capability training and future-proofing the industry”.

Some $20 million will go to the Queensland Tourism Activation Fund, and another $20 million will go toward attracting events to the state.

A further $15 million is pegged for a “marketing blitz” to encourage travellers to move around the state.

Part of this will go towards the state’s Good to Go campaign, intended to encourage Queenslanders to visit attractions in their own backyards.

While this funding isn’t directly pegged for small business support, businesses are able to apply for a ‘Good to Go’ stamp as part of their marketing, showing they are COVIDSafe and open to visitors.

Tackling skills shortages

Elsewhere, $100 million over three years has been allocated to upgrading tertiary and further education (TAFE) centres around the state, partly in a bid to make sure the skills training in regional areas match the demand.

Speaking at an event in Townsville, for example, Palaszczuk said the government “will be investing $14.2 million on a new hydrogen and renewable energy training hub”.

Other skills under focus include cyber security, robotics, manufacturing and agriculture.

Council contracts?

Finally, Palaszczuk has announced, if re-elected, Labor will commit $600 million in funding to council projects. This funding is intended to kickstart local infrastructure projects and create jobs in these areas.

While it hasn’t been explicitly promised, this would likely lead to contracts for small service providers.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at what the Liberal National Party is promising small businesses ahead of Saturday’s vote. Stay tuned.

Are you a business or startup based in Queensland? What’s important to you this election time? Let us know.

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