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Energy and operating costs key issues for regionBob Hawes

NO SWITCH: Energy and operating costs remain key issues for the region. It is nosurprise that energy and operating costs are continuing to affect economic performance and sentiment across the Hunter.
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The latest NSW Business Chamber (NSWBC) Business Conditions Survey has shown that although business operators remain upbeat about their prospects and the economic outlook for the year ahead, profitability and growth are being constrained by the continued decline in energy affordability, business operating costs and access to skilled labour.

Energy has emerged as a key issue in the past year as it is impacting operational competitiveness for businesses, not only in our region but the whole state. The issue isa high priorityand the Chamber is committed to working with all stakeholders to achieve the best outcome. Reducing the burden of payroll tax on small business is also key to driving investment in capital and increasing jobs growth, but we also need to do more to provide young people with better and more targeted training to improve employment opportunities. In its pre-budget submission to the state government, the NSWBC has proposed a minimum payroll tax threshold of $1 million a year and is championing incentives for employers to hire young job seekers.

The submission calls for more close attention to payroll tax relief, better regulation, more affordable energy, infrastructure, boosting local capability, investing in skills and education and supporting NSW exporters. We are also mindful that in regional areas a lot of businesses rely on agriculture. We’re acutely aware that continued drought-like conditions are starting to bite,affecting businesses and the wider community.

The Hunter is a resilient and diverse economy and business has a positive economic outlook, but these are important areas of focus if we are going to ensure future growth and prosperity.

Bob Hawes is the CEO of Hunter Business Chamber

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