The 2015 Federal Budget offered useful tax breaks for smaller architectural practices but very little in the way of long-term benefits and nothing in the way of moving toward a sustainable future embracing new housing, transport, environment and renewable energy policies, architects around the country say.
Releasing the results of its latest survey, the Association of Consulting Architects said architects around the nation generally felt the Budget would have a beneficial impact on their immediate practices and upon their profession.
Respondents who said the Budget would definitely have a positive impact upon their practices (28.6 per cent) outnumbered those who definitely feel it would have a negative impact (9.1 per cent) by almost three to one, while those who felt it would definitely have a positive impact upon the profession as a whole (also 28.6 per cent) also outnumbered those who felt it would have a negative impact (19.5 per cent).
This contrasts to the 2014 budget, which was widely criticised for promoting a loss of confidence and a lack of a clear plan for growth.
But this year’s Budget has been scalded for its lack of a long-term strategy in terms of areas such as housing, transport, infrastructure and sustainability, along with what some felt was a failure to tackle sufficient areas of expenditure reduction to deliver set the nation back on a sustainable footing from a financial perspective.
“We are a small business, hence will benefit from the reduced company tax rate and opportunity to write off equipment purchases,” said one respondent, whose sentiments were broadly consistent with the majority of feelings expressed. “(However,) on the downside, (a) continuing lack of leadership on the environment, housing and transport will continue to erode the profession's reputation and ability to make positive contributions.”
Other respondents were more forthright.
One said the Budget showed a "complete lack of interest and investment in things sustainable or renewable," which the respondent said was "worse than negligent."
Meanwhile, another said that a "lack of social accountability and fairness, (combined with) a lack of leadership on the environment, transport and housing will mean Australia will be diminished as an egalitarian nation."
The survey comes as the building and construction industry in general celebrates some significant wins from the Budget in terms of small business tax breaks.
In an effort to stimulate small business activity, the Budget saw a 1.5 per cent cut in the company tax rate for companies with a turnover of less than $2 million as well as a five per cent ‘tax discount’ on tax payable for unincorporated enterprises.
In addition, for the next two years, all small businesses will receive a full and immediate tax deduction for any individual assets they purchase up to a value of $20,000 (up from $1,000).
While some architecture practices indicated they would take advantage of the immediate write-off to replace obsolete equipment, others said they would not necessarily upgrade equipment just because of the tax break.