NSW Budget 'opportunity to shape and secure' state's economic future
The Australian Industry Group has urged the NSW Government to deliver initiatives that build productivity and competitiveness in the private and public sectors, promote the recycling of capital into new assets, and keep energy and other input costs under control.
"Although the NSW economy is strengthening, many businesses across major sectors of the economy continue to face tough and testing conditions. It is therefore critical that the Government puts in place measures in the 2015-16 Budget to ensure growth has a broad base and that economic opportunities are maximised," Ai Group NSW Director Mark Goodsell said.
"The 2015-16 Budget must also demonstrate a commitment by the Government to delivering genuine tax reform and reducing the cost of regulation and compliance on industry. This is vital to attract investment in the state's economy and assist NSW businesses to develop and gain market share domestically and internationally.
"A further major element to maximising the growth potential of NSW is ensuring that industry is able to meet its current and future skills needs. We believe that the Government's role in relation to addressing these issues lies with funding major initiatives to lift school sector literacy and numeracy, and developing initiatives that promote STEM skills in schools, the tertiary education sector and the workplace.
"Ai Group welcomes the passing of legislation for the long-term partial lease of the state's electricity network assets, which has the capacity to support substantial and necessary infrastructure investments.
"We also commend the NSW Government for taking a leading role in the development of innovative ways of recycling capital to fund infrastructure investment. It is important, however, that the Government shoulders greater responsibility in the coordination of infrastructure projects so as to avoid infrastructure capacity constraints and enable major projects to be funded and developed in a timely manner," Goodsell said.
Ai Group has identified various broader policy priorities aimed at building the productive capacity of the economy, and creating a positive economic environment that reflects long term growth objectives. This agenda which we would urge the NSW Government to adopt includes:
Reduce the payroll tax rate as an interim measure ahead of the Federal Government's upcoming white papers on taxation and federalism, and examine opportunities for the reform and removal of inefficient State-based taxes.
Regulatory compliance and costs: Reduce regulatory burdens on NSW businesses, including a commitment to the principles of best practice regulation in all dealings with business that ensures a focus on transparency; accountability; consistency.
Act to ensure competitive local businesses have full and fair access in the supply the goods and services required by the public sector and for major projects undertaken within Australia. Look beyond "least cost" in government purchasing and bring to bear whole-of-life costs involving maintenance and through-life support which are key advantages that local suppliers are able to offer.
Land use and development
Streamline planning and development processes to reduce delays and uncertainty in zoning, assessments and planning approvals. Take a whole of government approach into the delivery of new transport infrastructure, the use and release of land and decisions regarding the provision of supporting infrastructure.
Adopt a fully transparent approach to infrastructure provision, ensuring proposed projects are identified and prioritised on the basis of a rigorous and transparent cost benefit analysis. Take greater responsibility in the coordination of infrastructure projects so as to avoid infrastructure capacity constraints. Establish clear Ministerial responsibility for infrastructure to improve the coordination and planning of infrastructure throughout the State.
"The 2015-16 Budget is an important opportunity to achieve these ambitions," Goodsell said.