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NSW election agenda highlights policy priorities for business

19 February, 2015

The Australian Industry Group has publicly released its NSW election agenda which has been presented to all parties in the lead-up to next month's poll.

The agenda sets out the policy priorities for business for the next Government of NSW. It has recommendations across the broad themes of reducing the costs of doing business, enhancing growth with an emphasis on skills and innovation, and removing impediments to productivity.

"While NSW is doing well relative to other states, we need to manage the transition from the mining boom and ensure growth has a broad economic base, which is the traditional strength of the NSW economy," Ai Group, State Director, Mark Goodsell said.

"This requires policies 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.

"Post-election, all parties and independents must find a way to make government work in a stable and sensible way. Whenever political instability leads to policy uncertainty, it has a demonstrable effect on the confidence of business to invest and employ.

"Business wants the next government to deliver clear and strong strategic leadership in areas such as:

  • Facilitating and supporting efforts to encourage productivity improvements in all sectors of the economy - by lifting capabilities, building networks, enhancing relationships between industry and research organisations, creating mature partnerships with the private sector, and by providing appropriate information and encouragement - to businesses and other providers of goods and services;
  • Improving competitiveness by lowering business costs for NSW businesses. This includes outlining a plan to substantially improve the competitiveness of NSW's payroll tax regime;
  • Reducing regulatory and compliance burdens on industry;
  • Lifting the productivity of the public sector and in the delivery of services for which it takes responsibility and;
  • Maintaining strong public finances.

"Ai Group believes that the next Government should be strongly committed to delivering genuine tax reform to promote growth and investment in the State. It must take an active role in the Federal Government's upcoming white papers on taxation and federalism, and examine opportunities for the reform and removal of state-based inefficient taxes.

"The next NSW Government can immediately reduce business costs and encourage industry expansion by substantially improving the competitiveness of the state's payroll tax regime. The current payroll tax is an impediment to growth, investment and jobs in the state.

"We would also encourage the next Government to ensure that local businesses have full and fair access to Government projects and tenders. The NSW Government can play a significant role in in unlocking supply opportunities and supporting industry development. In particular, we believe that there is undue emphasis on upfront costs rather than whole of life costs in government procurement. This neglected the costs involved in maintenance and through-life support which are key advantages that local suppliers are able to offer.

"We also call on the next NSW Government to continue to invest significantly in the state's infrastructure so as to improve productivity and enhance the competitiveness of the NSW economy. However, in driving infrastructure activity, the next Government needs to shoulder a significantly greater responsibility by leading the way in coordinating infrastructure projects and reducing any uncertainty surrounding major projects.

"A further critical element in driving productivity growth is the need for a strong focus on skilling - particularly in the areas of literacy and numeracy and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, together with sound programs and incentives to encourage innovation," Goodsell said.

 

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