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Arts and tourism industry groups give varied response to 2023 Federal budget

Arts and tourism industry groups give varied response to 2023 Federal budget
May 10, 2023

The 2023/24 Federal budget delivered by Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers has generated a mixed response from industry bodies with Live Performance Australia (LPA) welcoming new funding commitments while Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) Australia has expressed disappointment at the raising of the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC).

With $535 million in funding for Australia’s cultural institutions having been announced last month LPA acknowledged that the budget reaffirms a long-term vision for Australian arts, entertainment and creativity but expressed concern that it still underplays the critical role of industry-led initiatives in rebuilding a workforce severely impacted by the pandemic.

LPA acknowledged new funding of $9 million for the eight national training organisations, including those which support the performing arts. However, there is scope for industry to play a much larger role in rebuilding our creative workforce.

LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson advised “our industry is grappling with a critical shortage of skilled workers across the breadth of roles and occupations which bring live arts and entertainment to Australian audiences.

“We would like a much stronger commitment from the Federal Government to funding for both industry-led traineeships and grants to help attract, retrain and retain the skills that are needed to bring live performances to Australians in our cities, regions and country towns.

“Initiatives such as the Commonwealth’s investment in fee-free TAFE courses are very welcome in building the future workforce over the medium to longer term.

“However, there is no substitute for on the job and workplace-based learning and development. The fastest and most efficient way to rebuild our workforce is through industry led initiatives with government support.”

Richardson said the National Cultural Policy, Revive, contained many positive initiatives, including the establishment of Creative Australia from 1st July 2023 and new investment in First Nations arts and culture, contemporary music and literature.

Tourism tax will force travellers to pay more
With the PMC raised $10 to $70 per passenger, TTF was unhappy that the cost of travel for Australians and international visitors will rise from July next year, warning that the increase will be a major setback for the industry, potentially putting jobs at risk.

Advising that it would make it harder for the tourism to recover, TTF Chief Executive, Margy Osmond stated “this will make it even more difficult for tourism to bounce back, as cost-of-living pressures increase and as the industry rebuilds from the devastating impacts of the Covid pandemic.

“It will also make it more expensive for international tourists to come to Australia, at a time when we’re desperately trying to attract more visitors, with Australia’s international tourism levels still below pre-Covid levels.

“However, we are pleased the government has listened to industry and used real common sense by not introducing the increase until the 1st of July, 2024 to enable the aviation sector to adequately prepare for the implementation of the increase.”

Osmond said the industry is calling for a five-year freeze on any future increases to provide certainty for the tourism sector, which has had more than its share of upheaval since Covid hit in early 2020.

She added “as we continue to recover from the biggest event to impact the tourism industry in recent memory, the freeze will be critically important to give the industry much-needed certainty.”

Business groups, including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, praised the “fiscal restraint” of the budget while the Australian Local Government Association advised that it represented a solid investment in local government, welcoming the $3.1 billion in Financial Assistance Grants to be provided to councils in the coming 12 months.

Sport and exercise peak bodies have not yet commented on the budget.

Images: Live performance at the Sydney Recital Hall (top, credit: Sydney Recital Hall) and TTF Chief Executive Margy Osmond (below credit: TTF).

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