Saturday, June 15, 2024

ARA backs Queensland budget

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomes the cost-of-living measures in Queensland’s state budget.

In particular, the industry body notes the government’s flagship policy to make kindergarten free for all families. They believe this will help relieve retail workforce shortages and help address the cost-of-living crisis for affected families.

Commenting on this policy, ARA CEO Paul Zahra says the cost of kindergarten is a significant barrier for working parents, particularly women, re-entering the workforce.

“The cost of kindergarten often makes it unfeasible for mums to return to work, so [this] news is welcomed. However, it’s a broader issue remaining for families with older children too,” he says.

“When costs of childcare and after school care outweigh the income received from part-time or casual work, women can be financially disadvantaged by joining or re-joining the workforce.

“This policy is a step in the right direction to incentivise female participation in the workforce – especially in retail, which still has some 36,400 job vacancies across the country.”

The ARA also welcomes other elements of a $1.6 billion package to tackle the cost of living, including a $550 cost-of-living rebate on electricity bills for all Queensland households.

Mr Zahra says Australians are doing it tough, and Queensland is no exception.

“Cost-of-living relief isn’t just essential for liveability, but also for economic stimulation in the retail sector,” he says.

“We’re already seeing discretionary spending slow – any cost-of-living relief is welcome. Some of this support will ultimately flow through to the retail economy in the form of retail spending.”

Mr Zahra adds that while the measures will reduce pressure on Queensland families, “[it’s] disappointing there weren’t further measures in place for small to medium size businesses who were confronting a tough year with the rising cost of doing business”.

Food relief

The Queensland state budget includes a $3 million investment to boost food relief services.

This includes $315,000 additional funding for Foodbank Queensland to provide more critical food relief and a $2.7 million expansion of the state’s popular school breakfast program over two years.

Commenting on this, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says: “Foodbank do some amazing work in our communities, and I know the $315,000 funding boost for critical food relief will be a welcome boost for many families.

“The $2.7 million to expand the school breakfast program into more Queensland schools is [also] great news for vulnerable families.”

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