Budget 2020: industry thumbs up on financial support

Associations hail write-offs, training and freight infrastructure initiatives

Budget 2020: industry thumbs up on financial support
The Budget: hard-copy edition


Fleet-owner representatives are united in backing a big-spending 2020 federal Budget aimed at spurring momentum in the Covid-struck economy.

Praise is lavished in common on financial incentives to invest, train and employ, with firms better able to spend in the short term and a younger, better national truck fleet and more skilled workers the expected longer-term outcome.


The introduction of temporary full expensing will drive trucking business investment and encourage the purchase of new, safer trucks and trailers, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) expects.  

Responding to the overnight announcement of the 2021 federal Budget, ATA chair David Smith says the announcement follows extensive lobbying by the ATA and its member associations for measures to encourage more investment in new and late-model second-hand trucking equipment.  

"This is a massive win for the ATA and our members," Smith says.

"Businesses with a turnover of up to $5 billion will be able to write off the full value of any new eligible asset they purchase for their business.

"For small and medium businesses, this will also include second-hand assets. 

"This is a game changer that will unlock investment in upgraded truck fleets.

"It will support jobs and put newer, safer and greener trucks on the road.  

"The importance of its application to trucking was highlighted by the treasurer last night, who said in his budget speech that: ‘A trucking company will be able to upgrade its fleet.’  

"The new support announced last night will extend support to 30 June 2022. 

The ATA also backs new support for businesses with a turnover up to $5 billion to temporarily offset tax losses against previous profits and the new JobMaker Hiring Credit to support jobs for young Australians.  

The Budget sets out the Government’s $110 billion infrastructure pipeline, including $14 billion in new and accelerated infrastructure.  

"2020 has been a reminder of how critical roads and supply chains are in keeping communities supplied," Smith says.  

"Building better and safer roads will boost the Australian economy and provide better access for moving goods to consumers and global markets."

Smith said the ATA strongly supports investment in road safety, with the Government to invest an additional $2 billion into targeted road safety works and $5.5 million to establish a National Road Safety Data Hub. 

"Without good quality and accessible road safety data, we can’t track the progress of road safety strategies, we can’t identify the reasons when policies fail and we can’t use evidence to set priorities," Smith says. 

"Last year, the ATA joined with the AAA and other peak road safety organisations to call for better data, which is reliable, consistent, integrated and open. 

"Improving the assessment and selection of infrastructure projects is a key reform priority for the ATA, and we also strongly welcome the Budget’s additional funds for Infrastructure Australia to expand the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan and undertake a comprehensive reset of the Infrastructure Australia Assessment Framework."  

There is $1.2 billion to support businesses to employ 100,000 new apprentices or trainees under a new apprenticeship support program. Under the program, businesses can apply for a 50 per cent wage subsidy to take on new apprentices regardless of location, industry or business size.  

"This is a strong investment in skills and will support the training of new apprentices and trainees, including diesel mechanics and drivers and logistics workers undertaking traineeships," Smith says.  

"These roles are critical to trucking and part of the diverse and professional career options in our industry."  


The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) also focuses on the business support aspect and echoes many of the ATA’s positions.

"In this Budget, the government has rightly recognised that after a year of misery businesses need meaningful incentives that will inspire confidence to invest in themselves and future workers ," VTA CEO Peter Anderson says

"Extending the instant asset write-off program will stimulate spending on new trucks, trailers, technology and other equipment to renew our aging transport fleet which will have enormous benefits for safety and productivity.

"And for those transport businesses that have been unable to work because of forced closures, the ability to carry-back losses and receive a tax credit could be just what they need to recover as our economy starts to re-open."

Read about the federal Budget spending measures, here

Support for skills and apprentices is seen as a winner.

"Our industry needs a steady supply of motor vehicle mechanics and other professional trades to service fleets of prime movers and other transport vehicles, so that supply chains are safe, efficient and productive," Anderson says.

"Like the VTA Driver Delivery program is designed to incentivise the training and hiring of young, new heavy vehicle drivers, JobTrainer will support employment of young people in sectors the transport industry relies on.


The South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) welcomed the Covid-19 recovery elements of this year’s Budget, including instant asset write off expansions, along with the  $100 million contribution towards ‘priority sections’ of the Strzelecki Track – a key link for the tourism, mining and livestock sectors.

"We look forward to seeing shovels in the ground on this upgrade, and also hope for a future plan to complete the Strzelecki Track, delivering a resilient, all weather bitumen link to southwest Queensland’s cattle country, cutting many hours off the freight journey to Adelaide," SAFC  executive officer Evan Knapp says.

"We also welcome the early delivery of previously announced works on the Princes Highway Corridor, which stretches from the Victorian Border near Mt Gambier to Port Augusta – as well as the expansion of the instant access write off scheme to businesses with a turnover of less than $5 billion, which may encourage trucking businesses to invest in newer, safer trucks.

"The SAFC further welcomes the continuation of support for the hard-hit aviation sector, which will be critically important to an export-led economic recovery."

But there was also concern about infrastructure priorities.

"However, we question the allocation of $200 million to Hahndorf road upgrades without a completed business case including a positive Cost Benefit Ratio (CBR)," Knapp says.

"This may well be a worthy project, but that will not be known until the preliminary analysis work is complete.

"There are other areas in which this money can be beneficially spent while these studies are undertaken – particularly towards combating SA’s $780 million road maintenance backlog, which has been identified as a priority by Infrastructure SA."

Civil Contractors Federation

For the Civil Contractors Federation (CCF), the certainty of a pipeline of projects that the Budget affords is highly regarded.

"CCF has long argued for significant and sustained civil infrastructure investment to support Australia’s economic recovery efforts and the budget announcements reflect CCF’s policy," CFF national CEO Chris Melham says.

The ‘use it or lose it’message to the states and territories was welcome but the CCF believes it needs to go further by requiring ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure funds to be spent in a transparent manner across urban, regional, rural, and remote Australia – and not to be used for ‘pork barreling’ in the lead up to respective state elections.
"In addition, federal, state and territory government procurement policy must be more balanced by encouraging and maximising greater participation of Tier 2 and Tier 3 head contractors, and I look forward to the federal government adopting this policy and its application to the release of infrastructure funds to state and territory procurement agencies," Melham says.


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