Piecemeal payroll relief annoys industry

Article by David Thomson courtesy of Queensland Country Life

Slowly at first, but then with alarming speed your income dries up. Push comes to shove. Loyal staff are laid off. Your plans for investments in the business are delayed. The bank manager pays a visit. Holidays are cancelled.

It’s a slow moving crisis not just for your business, but your entire industry. It affects your local community, the people who supply you, and ultimately the prosperity of the whole state and nation suffers.

It’s not coronavirus, although it could be. It is, in fact, drought.

This week the Queensland government announced that any small business directly or indirectly affected by coronavirus could defer their payroll tax payment for six months.

And fair enough too. From the horticulture industry to those industries impacted most immediately by coronavirus, we feel your pain.

What we’re not feeling so much is the same love and support that we might expect from our state government.

No one could stand in the main street of Stanthorpe or Gatton, look you in the eye, and tell you that the impacts of this drought are any less than what can be expected from coronavirus in the towns most reliant on tourism or education.

A number of appeals have been made by the Queensland agriculture industry to the lowest and highest levels of government for relief from payroll tax during the ongoing drought, all to no effect.

The treatment of different industries is plainly not equitable and, unfortunately, invites cynicism.

Last budget the Queensland government was widely applauded for granting a discount on payroll tax to regional employers.

This budget we need them to go further. We need payroll tax for employers in agriculture to be at least halved until we’ve entirely emerged from the grips of this drought. Which is far from over let’s be clear.

Long green grass on the footpaths between the Brisbane CBD and Ipswich or the Gold Coast is not the end of it.

While the tourists and students will likely return soon enough once the virus outbreak is over, this drought will be seen in bank balances for too many seasons to come.