I strongly support the Member for Warringah’s amendments to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Support For Small Business And Charities and Other Measures) Bill 2023. These amendments would increase the positive impact of the Small Business Energy Incentive. They would give businesses more time and money to plan and undertake energy efficiency and electrification works.

The amendments extend the deadline for projects to be completed from June 30, 2024 to June 30, 2025. The amendments also increase the maximum amount of the bonus deduction under the small business energy incentive from $20,000 to $50,000. Finally, the amendments require the Minister to table a report to parliament, no later than mid-2025, to assess the effectiveness of the small business energy incentive.

As a long-time campaigner for greater government support to businesses and households to electrify and improve their energy efficiency, I support the Bill. But, I believe these amendments would significantly improve the effectiveness of the Bill in reducing in energy costs and emissions for small businesses.

Getting this Bill right is critical as energy bill pressures increase and as Australia charts a path toward net zero emissions.

There are almost 15,700 small businesses in my electorate of Indi that will be eligible for this incentive. Many business owners across Indi have spoken to me of the increased costs of doing business they are facing, with rising energy bills a major factor. At the same time, these businesses want to play a role in reducing emissions. This Bill can help them to both reduce their energy bills and reduce their emissions.

Yet without an extension of the timeline for completing projects, many small businesses will be too hesitant to begin an energy efficiency or electrification project. They fear that their project won’t be completed by the June 30, 2024, deadline.

With just over 7 months until this deadline, as it stands, this Bill isn’t practical. For many small businesses, planning a project, finding available tradespeople, and completing the project within 7 months just isn’t realistic. Any delays could mean small businesses outlay project costs and then find they aren’t eligible for any support.

Extending the deadline to June 30, 2025 gives businesses more time and certainty that they will be able to complete projects within the eligible period.

Extending the deadline also allows for investments to be considered as part of long-term business planning, which any business owner will tell you is necessary as they balance cash flow. Many business owners would see this and think “great!” but they may not be in a position to make such an investment right this moment. Extending the deadline is needed to ensure this Bill actually meets its objective.

Increasing the maximum available bonus deduction under the incentive from $20,000 to $50,000 will provide businesses more flexibility to chose the project that is best suited to their situation and best sets up the business for the future. This might mean undertaking large scale projects such as completely electrifying a business’s operations. Or it could allow a supermarket to install sufficient batteries to endure blackouts without having to rely on generators, or wineries and dairies to improve efficiency and resilience by insulating tanks and cool rooms.

Businesses are calling out for support to reduce their energy bills. This appetite for action is underlined by the number and diversity of projects across Indi that sought funding under the recent Energy Efficiency Grants for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

The small business energy incentive is a fantastic opportunity to provide support to all small businesses.

These amendments will improve the effectiveness of the incentive, and I strongly encourage the Government to support them.

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