NSW government will spend $250 million to lure businesses to the state, but SMEs are not the target

COVID-19 rules

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Source: AAP/Joel Carrett.

The New South Wales government is hoping to lure big international and interstate businesses to set up shop in the state by offering payroll tax relief, fast-tracked planning approvals and access to free or subsidised spaces and accommodation. 

The government will spend $250 million on the new Jobs Plus Program, which will also give businesses access to a concierge service for government agencies and programs, and the government said it will also partner with participating businesses to develop subsidised training programs for workers. 

However, small and medium businesses are unlikely to directly benefit from the program, which CPA Australia’s manager of business and investment policy, Gavan Ord, tells SmartCompany is “clearly aimed at larger businesses — probably those with 500 plus employees and the odd, highly successful startup”. 

The program is part of the state’s 2020-21 budget and, according to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, will “create or support” up to 25,000 jobs by June 30, 2022. 

Businesses will be eligible for support under the program if they create at least 30 new net jobs in NSW.

This will entitle them to payroll tax relief for every new job created, for up to four years. 

Businesses in NSW currently pay a payroll tax rate of 5.45%, if their annual payroll is above the threshold of $1 million. 

However, NSW businesses were able to defer their payroll tax liabilities until the end of October, as part of the government’s coronavirus support measures, or receive a 25% reduction in their payroll tax if they had grouped wages of $10 million or less in the 2019-2020 financial year.

The NSW government said it will also help these businesses with the NSW planning system, including with “fast-tracked planning approval pathways and advice”, and provide “enabling infrastructure”, such as new local roads and access to utilities and digital infrastructure. 

The subsidised training programs that will be developed under the scheme may also include “bespoke skills programs” that will then be made available to other members of the community. 

The program will become available from December 15, 2020, and run until June 30, 2022. 

While Ord says these assistance programs are not directly applicable to SMEs, the state government has “been active in engaging with the SME sector throughout the pandemic”. 

“We are hopeful that this engagement will lead to targeted SME support measures being announced in the state budget on 17 November,” he adds.

In a statement on Thursday, Berejiklian said the new program “cements this state as the best place to do business in Australia”. 

“The challenges NSW has faced as a result of the triple crises of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 have given us an opportunity to change our approach and refocus on creating jobs for the future,” she said. 

NSW Minister for Jobs Stuart Ayres said in the same statement that the program is about “bringing forward private sector investment and attracting new investors to NSW”. 

“Driving job creation in the non-government sector is critical to a successful COVID-19 recovery strategy,” he said.

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