2020/21 Pre-Budget Submission (Update)

 

The 2020/21 State Budget will be one of the most important budgets in Victoria’s history, and it is vital that the government lay out a clear path for the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We commend the assistance that the government has provided to date, notably the full waiver of Vacant Residential Land Tax and partial waiver of the Congestion Levy, and we urge the government to bring forward additional economic stimulus measures as part of the budget.

Together with the specific measures outlined in this submission, we also note that easing restrictions now is critical for the state’s economic recovery.  The following issues are particularly important:

  1. The planning for a safe return to office work in the Melbourne CBD and indeed right across Victoria needs to be done now rather than later. The central city economy alone accounts for some 500,000 jobs and produces about 7% of Australia’s GDP at its peak, and safe access to office locations will be essential to restarting business in Victoria and nationally.

    The development of a safe Return to Office Plan that ensures workers are not only able to return to the office, but are confident that it is safe to do so, is of critical importance – and we urge the government to work closely with industry and business to develop a plan as soon as possible. The notion that virtually no one will be back in offices in 2020 is highly problematic for the economy.

  2. Real estate inspections and display homes have been permitted for residential properties but commercial property inspections remain prohibited. This outcome seems sub-optimal when mostcommercial property inspections are done on vacant properties and could be done in a range of ways with only a handful of people present. The ability to carry out commercial property leasing bears directly on economic recovery because it affects the likelihood of additional commercial buildings being viable.
  3. Renovations for retirement villages and in apartments cannot currently occur even when the individual dwelling is not occupied if the building or retirement village is owned by a single entity. In a retirement village context, this restriction has meant that some people who have sold and settled their existing dwelling cannot move into a new retirement unit and are currently homeless, resorting to serviced apartments.