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Five business priorities for next federal government

In a new Ai Group survey released today, industrial relations reform, cutting red tape and regulatory burdens and implementing tax reform are ranked as the top business policy priorities for the next federal government.

In the lead up to the federal election, Ai Group surveyed over 330 businesses across the manufacturing, services and construction sectors on their policy priorities.

Industrial relations reform to boost productivity was the number one overall priority for Australian businesses (on a weighted average basis) and almost a quarter (23.1%) nominated it as their biggest concern. Manufacturing businesses ranked it as their greatest priority (31.3%).

"It's not at all surprising that IR reform is the key business policy concern for the next government," said Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) Chief Executive, Innes Willox.

"As we have been advocating since the Fair Work Act’s introduction and in the subsequent reviews of the Act, changes are needed in a number of areas to provide greater flexibility to employers and to rebalance the current excessive weight given to Union interests."

Reducing red tape and regulatory duplication was the second highest policy priority overall and the greatest concern for small business.

This in large part reflects the onerous time commitment required of owner-managers in complying with regulatory obligations. Reducing red tape and regulatory duplication is also a high priority for businesses in the construction sector, with over 40% reporting this as their highest priority.

Rounding out the top three priorities is reducing company tax rates and implementing tax reform. This was a particular concern for businesses in the services sector with more than a quarter of all service providers (26.5%) ranking tax reform as their top priority.

In addition to implementing the Henry Tax Review recommendation to cut the company tax rate to 25%, a number of respondents across the country also identified changing the Goods and Service Tax (GST) as a key part of a program of tax reform.

Top five business policy priorities for next government (on weighted average basis):

  1. Industrial relations reform to boost productivity – number one priority overall and major concern for manufacturers.
  2. Reducing red tape and regulatory duplication – second overall with 23% of respondents nominating it as their highest priority for the next government. This is a particularly important issue for small businesses and construction companies.
  3. Reducing company tax rates and implementing tax reform – renewed calls to implement Henry Tax Review recommendations including cutting company tax rate to 25% and revisiting GST.
  4. Investing in physical infrastructure – It was ranked by 17% of businesses as their number one priority. Infrastructure investment was seen as a relatively high priority for NSW businesses.
  5. Encouraging workforce skills and training – Encouraging workforce skills and training was a relatively high priority for construction businesses in Queensland and Western Australia where skill shortages have been particularly acute.

“This report is a significant and timely gauge of business sentiment and priorities in this pre-election period. Business is looking for genuine commitment and action in these areas from the next government. As always, we welcome further discussion with all sides of politics on policies that support productivity and growth,” Willox said.

Download the full survey.

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