FOLLOWING last week’s depressing news from Pacific Brands, Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr was in a more up-beat mood speaking in Sydney to a room full of manufacturers today (March 4)
While admitting Australian manufacturing is under intense pressure with thousands of job cuts announced in recent months, Carr said it is important to remember that manufacturing still employs more than a million people — around a tenth of the workforce — and that this figure has remained steady for many years.
“It is great to see management and unions cooperating to avoid job losses and keep business going — for example, by reducing working hours and bringing forward leave.
“Manufacturers know how important it is to keep a core skilled workforce in place so that they are ready when the inevitable recovery comes.
“Short time, down days and unplanned leave can be hard on working families, and it is right that we recognise the efforts everyone is making to preserve jobs — whether it be individual workers, unions or companies,” Carr said.
Despite the international environment becoming increasingly hostile, Carr said the more upbeat domestic data he is seeing should give industry cause for hope.
“Australia is better placed to weather the storm than most other countries, and the data suggests that the downturn may be shorter and shallower here than elsewhere.
“It justifies our optimism about Australia’s future beyond the crisis. And it gives me confidence that the massive effort we are making to sustain activity and build capacity will deliver positive results.
“One thing we can be absolutely sure of — conditions would be much worse if the government had not acted decisively.
While Carr didn’t delve too long on stimulus packages, he did highlight the $3.8bn business tax break in the recent Nation Building and Jobs Plan.
He reminded the audience that all firms, from SMEs to international giants, can claim a bonus 30% tax deduction for assets acquired between the 13th of December 2008 and the 30th of June 2009, and installed before the 30th of June 2010.
“For assets acquired from the 1st of July 2009 to the 31st of December 2009 and installed before the 31st of December 2010, the bonus deduction will be 10%.
“Firms turning over less than $2m a year can claim on assets costing $1,000 or more. For larger firms, the minimum is $10,000.
“The deduction will apply to new, tangible, depreciating assets that firms acquire, start to hold under contract, or start to construct between the dates I’ve mentioned. This is on top of the usual depreciation deduction.
“We want businesses to go on building for the future, in an environment where they might otherwise defer or cut back on their capital investment plans,” Carr said.