Australian automotive industry associations have expressed mixed reactions to the Australian Government’s budget for 2023-2024.
The Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) said it welcomed small business support measures such as energy bill relief, instant asset write-off extension, and some red tape relief. However, Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the MTAA, said the budget fell short in other areas.
“In the 2023-24 budget, the government neglects to outline how it proposes to address the current 40,000-person automotive industry skills gap, including the increasingly important skills training required for electric vehicles, which is lagging,” said Gwilym.
According to the MTAA, considerable economic challenges lie ahead for Australia’s economy, with rising debt and interest payments over the budget forward estimates necessitating a need for greater structural reform. Considerable uncertainty also remains in the global environment that may affect government forecasts over the period.
“The automotive industry is a crucial part of a cleaner, greener future, so the federal government should invest where it will get the best return – in the industry that will make it all happen, the automotive industry,” said Gwilym.
The MTA NSW said the budget contained a range of measures that could have positive implications but while the intent appears positive, more detail is needed to understand whether they will meet specific industry needs.
“It’s pleasing to see that the government has recognised and acted upon several of MTA NSW’s recommendations in our pre-budget submission,” the association said.
“We welcome the response to our pre-budget submission with the announcement of $20 million in funding for Jobs and Skills Councils to help address skills shortages and we will continue to work with government to ensure that funding is appropriately placed.
“The government has announced $54.3 million over five years to redesign support services to improve apprenticeship completion rates and the workforce’s diversity across several sectors. MTA, as a Registered Training Organisation, is perfectly positioned to support a TAFE system under pressure and improve completion rates in automotive across the board.
“The Small Business Energy Incentive Scheme has been announced to support small businesses to fund the installation or replacement of certain types of equipment. However, there are exemptions that will be clarified by the ATO.”
According to the MTA NSW, clarity is also needed for other issues, including funding for electric and hybrid vehicle training.
“It is promising that $5.2 million has been earmarked for electric vehicle training for emergency services. However, the industry has been conspicuously omitted from the announcement. While it is unclear whether funding will become available, learning to work safely and competently with electric vehicles is essential, so MTA NSW will continue to push the federal and state governments to help fund this training.”
Responding to the allocation of $125.8 million over four years to implement jobs and skills summit outcomes, the MTA NSW said: “We applaud the investment and intent of the funding but there are a number of hurdles to overcome to reap the benefits of the announcement in NSW, as licensing requirements (in NSW only) impact the ability of this funding to be effective.”
MTA SA / NT
The MTA SA / NT said it was disappointed with several policies, including the Instant Asset Write Off Scheme, which will decrease to a maximum of $20,000. “Small business could recently claim for a piece of new equipment worth up to $150,000. For example, this will stop businesses claiming the cost of new commercial vehicles as a tax deduction,” the association said.
Like its New South Wales counterpart, the MTA SA / NT expressed concern about funding for electric and hybrid vehicle training, tools and infrastructure. “Despite their National EV Strategy, we believe they need to work with industry to prepare for the automotive transition,” the association said.
Highlighting that economic conditions are set to deteriorate over the coming years according to the budget forecast, the MTA SA / NT said it will monitor the situation and ensure the government prioritises small and medium businesses, and the automotive industry, into the future.
The Northern Territory Government also released its budget, culminating in a range of investments and policies including:
- The Global Worker Attraction campaign to encourage skilled workers from interstate and overseas to live and work in the territory
- $24 million towards apprenticeships and traineeships to offer Northern Territory residents the opportunity to study and earn an income while undertaking a qualification
- Increased utility tariffs by 2.7 per cent in 2022‑23, with the Northern Territory increasing them further by the same level in 2023‑ The NT Government said the increases are far below the level of inflation and the increased costs of supply
- Continued provision of up to $1000 for the workwear and gear bonus to support first-year apprentices and trainees.