The Albanese Government delivered their first Budget on Tuesday 25 October making it the second Budget we've seen this year. There were a few good wins for Digital Service Providers (DSPs) including continued support of the Modernising Business Registers program and measure to address the skills shortages that are being felt by many across the business software space.
Find our wrap up of the Budget for DSPs below.
At a glance:
- $166.2 million to fund the Modernising Business Registers program until 2025-26
- $7.9 million over four years for the Fair Work Commission to support the uptake of enterprise bargaining for small businesses
- $5.5 million over two years of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to investigate and respond to the Optus data breach
- $12.9 million over three years to establish Jobs and Skills Australia
- $42.3 million to speed up visa processing and raise awareness of opportunities in Australia with potentnial skilled migrants
- Continued support for the Technology Investment Boost and the Skills and Training Boost
Jobs & Skills
Following the Jobs and Skills Summit in September, Treasury is committed to developing the Employment White Paper which aims to provide a roadmap to accelerate Australia's workforce. DSPANZ is currently preparing a submission to the Terms of Reference for the paper and we look to remain engaged on this initiative through the Department of Workplace Relations and Employment's RegTech Award Compliance Strategic Working Group (RACSWG).
Additionally, the Budget delivers on the outcomes from the Jobs and Skills Summit:
- A Digital and Tech Skills Compact - aims to develop options for a 'digital apprenticeships' model that supports entry level tech worker to earn while learning. This will be implemented in partnership with businesses, unions, and training providers.
- The APS Digital Traineeship Program - will support priority groups to undertake a Certificate IV qualification in digital or technology related fields, aiming to foster new digital career opportunities in the Australian Public Service.
To support the creation of jobs in tech and as part of the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, $1 billion has been included as the Critical Technologies Fund. This follows consultation earlier in the year which will see an update to the list of critical technologies of national interest.
To address skill shortages, funding will be provided towards training and visa processing for skilled migrants. $485.5 million will be funded to provide up to 20,000 additional university places, particularly in areas of skill shortages like technology. $42.2 million will be invested to speed up visa processing and raise awareness of opportunities in Australia for high-skilled migrants.
This Budget included a number of measures that boost the ATO's capacity and their ability to continue compliance-related activities and programs. Importantly, the Tax Avoidance Taskforce has been given an additional $200 million of funding per year and the Taskforce has been extended for another 12 months through to July 2025. The Personal Income Taxation Compliance Program has also been extended for another two years.
On top of the above compliance-related measures, a number of tax measures will be tightened to increase savings over the next four years. This includes:
- Chances to off-market share buy-back rules
- Reversing the measure allowing taxpayers to self-assess the effective life of intangible depreciating assets
- Multinational tax
- Shadow Economy Program
The Tax Practitioners Board will also receive $30.4 million over four years to increase their compliance investigations.
With the Budget was light overall in terms of its support for small businesses, there were a few measures of note including a reaffirmed focus from the Albanese Government to deliver on their Better Deal for Small Business.
The Budget allocated $15.1 million to support the financial and mental wellbeing of small business owners which was a wlecome inclusion.
The Fair Work Commission will receive $7.9 million over four years to support the uptake of enterprise bargaining for small businesses with a wider commitment from the Government to create more accessible and fair workplace relations support and systems for small business.
With the impending implementation of the new paid family and domestic leave entitlement, the Fair Work Ombudsman will receive $3.4 million to provide support and advice to small businesses around the new entitlement.
And last but not least for small business, the Australian Bureau of Statistics project, helping small and medium businesses respond to ABS surveys by using their existing accounting software, got a mention in the Budget papers.
Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave
As mentioned above, there is funding for the Fair Work Ombudsman to help provide support and advice ont he new paid family and domestic violence leave entitlement which is a change form the previously unpaid entitlement. The Bill to enact paid family and domestic violence leave is currently being discussed in the Senate. DSPANZ has been actively involved in conversations about how the entitlement interacts with other leave types and the definition of a day within the legislation.
The impact of the Optus data breach and impending investigation response by the OAIC may have impacts on data collection practices. The results of this investigation and other possible changes to update privacy-related legislation will be interesting to follow.
The Budget also established an initial investment of $12.6 million over four years to help combat scams and online fraud.
There were a few notable measure relating to the Government and their spending and capabilities.
The Government is providing $79.3 million over three years to strengthen the capability of the Australian Public Service. The spend on this measure is expected to be offset through other savings within the APS such as saving $3.6 billion over four years through reducing their spend on external labour, advertising, travel and legal expenses.
DSPANZ looks forward to engaging with the relevant government agencies where measures may affect Digital Service Providers (DSPs), their users and the wider business software industry.