Bendigo’s need for NBN growing, businesses say.

COMPLETING the roll out of the National Broadband Network by 2020 is the number one priority for Bendigo’s business leaders, who are seeking a further commitment in tomorrow’s federal budget.

The Bendigo Business Council released its list of six priorities for the budget based on a survey of its members, and lower company tax was not among them.

Bendigo Business Council president Leah Sertori said the lack of NBN in Bendigo was placing a handbrake on business.

“Even just building a fixed wireless tower in Bendigo in the meantime would be a boost to businesses,” she said.

“It would be an affordable way to make sure we have better internet speeds before the NBN comes to Bendigo.”

Ninety-six per cent of the council’s members said a commitment to complete the NBN in Bendigo by 2020 was “imperative”. They “strongly preferred fibre to the premises vs fibre to the node”, according to the survey.

The council also put Bendigo forward as a potential pilot site for a new way of funding infrastructure projects.

The “value capture” approach could put less emphasis on federal contributions, which often come late to larger projects, and more emphasis on buying government bonds.

Ms Sertori pointed to the vacant land on Chum Street, Golden Square, as an ideal location to trial the idea.

She said $30 million could be needed to rehabilitate the land for use, but no governments or private companies would be willing to spend the money. The value capture approach could help to fund the works, the business council believes.

The Aspire precinct and demolition of Bendigo Hospital towers were other projects that could benefit from the plan.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the idea during a speech about infrastructure on Friday.

Accelerating the development of utility scale renewable energy, and making global organisations pay their fair share of tax were also among the priorities.

In their budget wish list, the Bendigo Business Council stated it was “grossly unfair” that local companies had to deal with a complicated taxation system, while large overseas companies were largely avoiding tax.

“Our members are alarmed by the inequity in the Australian taxation system that allowed global organisations to operate in our marketplace without paying tax in Australia,” the statement read.

“Bendigo Business Council members completing directly with large multinationals – by contract – must comply with a complex taxation system including local, state and federal taxes across payroll, pay as you go withholding, land tax, company tax and more.”

Bendigo Property Services managing director Martin Leach said getting a tax cut was not always the priority for businesses.

“I would be dismayed if there was a tax cut for my company, when at the same time we’re ripping money out of services,” he said.


This article courtesy of the Bendigo Advertiser