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14 June 2021 Posted by 

Shout Perrottet an Aperiti: Business lunch is making a comeback

A COCKTAIL, a good steak and a contract went hand in hand during the golden years of the tax deductible Great Aussie business lunch.
Today’s busy generations have missed out of the many benefits of a business lunch, but finally salvation is at hand for the nation’s business lunch devotees.
It all disappeared in the days of the miserly Federal Treasurer Paul Keating who reckoned we didn’t deserve a tax break for our business lunches.
As a consequence, hundreds of restaurants and cafes were hard hit and thousands of people were left without a job, many of them ‘at home’ parents who could fit in a few hours around midday to host businesspeople.
About the only thing that benefitted was the nation’s waistlines, left malnourished and shrunken by the lack of Oyster Kilpatrick and Lobster Thermidor washed down with a liberal splash of  Marlborough Sounds Sauvignon Blanc followed by Irish Coffee. Taxi!
Well, if Paris is known as the city of light, Sydney will once again become known as the city of the business lunch if the State Government has its way.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has indicated enthusiasm for winding back the Fringe Benefits Tax, or FBT, in order to restore the era of the tax-deductible business lunch. “I’m all in favor of bringing back the long lunch in Sydney,” Mr Perrottet said recently.
A first class move
Business lunches largely vanished following the introduction of the FBT in 1986. This was a rare anti-business mistake by the usually sensible Hawke government.
It was a class-based move. Proponents of the tax argued that wealthy business types should not earn tax breaks by eating oysters and drinking wine.
This argument misses the point that business lunches frequently lead to business deals, creating employment opportunities for other Australians.
If ever Sydney and Australia needed some business-boosting incentives, it is right now, during our economic recovery from the damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, mindful of the $3.8B a year generated nationwide by the FBT, won’t cut the tax.
So keen is Mr Perrottet, however, that he flagged a NSW-only FBT reform. 
“If they don’t do it themselves, I’m more than happy to look at something in a creative space from the NSW government level to help drive that,” Mr Perrottet told media.
This would give Sydney a significant advantage over other state capitals which won’t have tax deductions in place.
There are also the flow-on effects for restaurants across Western Sydney, which is among the areas most damaged by our economic contraction.
Leading restaurateur Luke Mangan told media that bringing back the long lunch by scrapping the FBT could increase trade by up to 50%.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.