The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has called for the Rudd Government to focus on jobs and strategies to keep prices low in the Federal Budget in May.
ARA executive director Richard Evans said employment stability is the key to domestic economic recovery and the Rudd Government’s second budget must provide leadership and strategy to encourage employers to maintain and grow their workforce.
“Employers need support from government to overcome the reduction in consumer demand over the past 12 months. Over 65 per cent of retailers have indicated they will shed staff to cope with the increased costs of the government’s new fair work Australia regime and award modernisation – they don’t need increased taxes and compliance costs from budget announcements,” said Evans.
Retailers create employment for 15 per cent of working families through full-time, part-time and casual jobs for 1.5 million Australians.
“Indeed, retailers attract many Australians to their first job and they now need incentives to continue providing employment opportunities – particularly for our youth who may be discriminated against as a result of changes to industrial relations law.
“Any increase in taxes will mean increases in prices and the community cannot sustain price increases before economic recovery,” said Evans.
“If the government is looking for savings to help pay for their programs, perhaps it should consider cutting waste from its expenditure. Grocery Choice is a perfect example of a complete waste of $13 million in taxpayer’s money that could be better used in education for retailers and employment incentive programs, rather than on a website that will never work and provides no community benefit.
“Retailers – who believe negative economic commentary is affecting consumer confidence by deferring spending decisions – are looking for leadership from government, economic experts and commentators to overcome obviously difficult trading times. It’s time for the narrative the change."
Retailers operating in times of increased legislation and economic uncertainty, particularly smaller retailers in regional areas, would also like to see increased training and education through Business Enterprise Centres across Australia.
“Small and independent retailers struggling to survive need access to advice and training about how to manage their business in hard times, as well as to keep them informed and up-to-date with legislation changes affecting the small business sector,” said Evans.