“The economy is roaring back and the challenge will be to maintain momentum,’’ Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“This budget helps take immediate pressure off Australians and begins laying the groundwork for a more secure economic future.
“A growing economy and a strong budget position – powered by the private sector – will deliver jobs for Australians and the revenues needed to fund services and support.
“The dividend of our world beating recovery means the government can provide temporary cost-of-living relief while continuing to lock in growth and start repairing the budget.
“Temporary measures to halve fuel excise and deliver targeted cash payments to low-income earners and pensioners will put more money in the pockets of Australians now.
“In the longer term, the budget begins the critical work of building a more productive, higher wage economy so that Australians get ahead.
“The biggest risk to stalling the momentum of the recovery is an acute shortage of workers and a critical skills deficit. This budget goes a long way to addressing these handbrakes on the economy.
“The government has responded to our calls to restore permanent migration levels and, importantly, heard the message from business for skilled migrants to make up 70 per cent of the overall intake.
“Business is particularly pleased with the $7 billion investment to skill and train Australians. This is a down payment on the future which will give Australians access to the skills and training they need to secure higher paid jobs and it is a crucial element in attracting more investment to Australia.
“Encouraging women to fully participate in the workforce is a key element of economic growth and tonight’s Paid Parental Leave announcement builds on last year’s child care package. These practical changes let families choose how they share caring responsibilities and how they balance work and their families.
“This budget builds on two years of targeted support that ensured business could keep Australians in their jobs and the economy running.
“A 20 per cent allowance for small business for investments in both digital and training will help give them the tools and incentives they need to support the recovery. These measures recognise that small businesses have borne the brunt of COVID.
“A raft of common-sense tax simplification measures and red tape reductions will also help small businesses with their cash flow.
“The budget continues the work of making it easier to do business through its ongoing efforts to act on unnecessary regulation and red tape.
“Critically, spending is targeted at improving Australia’s productive capacity through a record infrastructure program.
“Australian regions will also get the essential infrastructure that will unlock huge new opportunities and growth. The $2 billion regional accelerator program reflects our position that for the whole country to prosper, we need to unlock the potential of regional Australia.
“This budget shows we are on the right course but we are not out of the woods yet. Rising costs and volatility mean businesses who want to expand and do new things in Australia face hard decisions and we must rebalance the investment equation.
“To accelerate our economic momentum, we need to act now to ensure Australia is competitive with the rest of the world.
“Long term business investment remains the missing link. The budget shows a severe business investment decline in the outer years coupled with GDP growth back to 2.5 per cent – that is not the basis of sustained wages growth.
“We need to permanently make Australia a more attractive investment destination and a more competitive place to do business, that’s how we deliver sustained, higher wages.
“Both sides of politics agree we need to deliver a business-led recovery. To do this, we must drive investment to transform our economy and put Australians in the box seat.’’