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Labor’s ‘Infrastructure’ plan is an attack on small business

Release Date: 27/02/2015
The Illawarra Business Chamber (IBC) says NSW Labor’s $10 billion infrastructure funding plan is an attack on small business that will make local businesses less competitive, hinder economic growth and cost jobs.
“It’s easy to attack the business community when politicians are short on funds, but an attack on business is ultimately an attack on jobs,” said IBC Chief Executive, Debra Murphy.
“The very point of new infrastructure investment is to help drive employment and economic growth. However, Labor’s plan to defer the abolition of inefficient NSW business taxes will undo the benefit of investing in new infrastructure and make the Illawarra region less competitive.
“These taxes discourage efficiency-improving mergers, acquisitions or restructures, and discourage start-ups from establishing in NSW. Their continued deferral adds further costs by denying businesses a level playing field with other states.
“Wollongong-Sydney road connectivity is 25-30% worse than similar regional centres, as evidenced in our Linking the Illawarra – improving the region’s transport connectivity study. The Illawarra deserves more infrastructure investment to address our critical backlog of infrastructure projects which are holding back the growth of the region. 
 “We’re not convinced that now is the time for a ‘modest’ infrastructure plan that means we won’t see the delivery of key projects such as the WestConnex Southern extension which was a major step forward in improving the woeful Sydney-Wollongong road connectivity.
“Labor has said that it will return an additional $280 million of the Port Kembla sale funds to the Illawarra, but what we’d like to see is actual infrastructure commitments and a more even playing field for NSW businesses.   
“We’ve seen a lot of scare-mongering in the last couple of days about higher electricity prices, but the fact is that NSW’s publicly owned electricity networks have been the major driver of the hike in household energy bills – adding $580 to the average bill in just five years.
“Since 1997 the publicly-run networks in NSW have increased their costs by a staggering 122 per cent. In contrast, since leasing its electricity networks in the 1990s, Victoria has seen network costs decline by 18 per cent.
“Given that public ownership of electricity networks has failed to deliver affordable electricity in NSW, the proposed ‘poles and wires’ lease is a sensible way of unlocking funds to invest in essential NSW infrastructure without attacking the livelihood of NSW business owners who are already doing it tough.
Media Contact:         Julia Frith 0417 135 858

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