Date posted: 05/05/2017 3 min read

What CAs want from Budget 2017-18

Acuity interviewed a cross section of chartered accountants to find out what they want to see Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison deliver in Budget 2017-18.

In brief

  • Budget 2017-18 needs to be fair and balanced, meeting the needs of society now, while not passing on a debt burden to future generations.
  • The government should stop putting on patches to prevent the boat from sinking, and start looking to replace the parts of the boat that are rotting.
  • More targeted child care benefits are needed, along with regulation that encourages parents to go back to work.

Groups publishing wish lists for what they would like to see in the Australia’s 2017-18 federal budget, to be delivered on 9 May 2017, can be roughly divided in two. Those advocating for their own advantage and those advocating for the good of others. Chartered accountants (CAs) are firmly in the second camp. For CAs the focus is their clients and society in general.  

Acuity questioned a cross section of CAs, including a senior manager in a big four firm, a CFO for a not-for-profit organisation and a senior partner in a regional CA practice about what they hope to see in Budget 2017-18.

William Tang CA, senior analyst at Deloitte

The budget needs to be fair and balanced between meeting the needs of society now, and not passing on a debt burden to future generations.  

If we do not curtail the current over spending, the result will be higher taxes, or lower quality social services in the future. We need surpluses to fund economic growth. That message does not seem to have been passed on effectively, as expenditure has blown out in recent years.   Image: Stefan Postles  / Getty Images.

Good economic policy can sometimes be blocked for a party’s own political reasons or “horse trading”, and that’s politics. But I hope that this year the senate gives the government more leeway to implement sound policy that is good for Australia.

Esther Wan CA, CFO at not-for-profit organisation Oaktree

I want to see investment for the future. The government should stop putting on patches to prevent the boat from sinking, and start looking to replace the parts of the boat that are rotting.  

Specifically I would like to see:

1. Preventative expenditure. For example:
  • Climate finance: We are destroying our environment through inaction. We need appropriate taxes and barriers, and to honour Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, for example, contributing to the Green Climate Fund.
  • Family violence: The largest portion of spending should be preventative.
  • Mental health: More people are struggling with this, particularly the young. There is stigma and unawareness around it, which is costing money and productivity.
  • Infrastructure needs ongoing investment with continuous population growth and ageing.
  • Education and training for young people. We must empower the leaders of tomorrow, keeping them engaged and committed to society. For example, financial literacy education. Many people have no idea how to manage money. This leads to them mismanaging their funds and not planning for their future. They have no savings for a rainy day, and are not able to afford a house. The government should fund mandatory financial literacy education in secondary schools.

2. A narrative change to the fact that Australia is doing quite well. We need to do our part on overseas aid and refugees.
3. The return of the budget to surplus. There should be a real attempt and plan around this.
4. Not for profits fill in the gaps that government funding leaves open. As the sector struggles with funding, government should consider what the priorities of society are and whether it needs to better fund charities.
5. More should be done to close the gap with Australia’s first peoples – they shouldn't be expected to integrate into the society we created. We need to understand their ways and traditions and adapt to them.
6. Extracting more from the rich. For example, large companies that use schemes to avoid tax; and putting a cap on negative gearing.

David Hutchings FCA, senior partner at AFS & Associates, Bendigo

My priorities are certainty around superannuation. The current A$25,000 concessional contribution cap means it is unlikely that many people starting out on their working life today will ever be able to get A$1.6m into super, and if they can, it will not be enough to retire on comfortably.  

Also infrastructure – there needs to be a significant boost to federal funding to repair main roads. Not just the major interstate highways, but the key freight and business routes between provincial cities.

Damien Palmer CA, partner at AFS & Associates, Bendigo

Regional universities – there needs to be a funding boost for regional universities to increase the breadth and scale of study options.   

Also regional locations. The government should introduce incentives for businesses to establish or relocate to the regions. For example, capital works concessions to construct property for use in the regional areas, and employment incentives for moving to regional areas and employing people on a large scale.  

Government departments should lead by example by moving or establishing their offices in the regions, instead of always in capital cities   

Also, childcare. We need better-targeted childcare benefits and regulation that encourages parents to go back to work. Historically, increased concessions just led to increased fees.

CA ANZ and Australian Federal Budget 2017-18

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand's full pre-budget submission to Treasurer Scott Morrison.