NSW new plan: wide-ranging and ambitious - as far as it goes

28 November, 2006

The NSW Government's plan 'A new direction for NSW', is wide-ranging and ambitious and will be well received by the community, according to Heather Ridout, the Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group.

The plan sets out a strategic direction and establishes the building blocks for future growth and ongoing improvements in the quality of life in the State.

For business, the whole-of-government approach and the accountabilities built into the plan are positive initiatives.

The commitment to maintain and to expand investment in infrastructure over an extended period is one of the essential building blocks in securing the State's economic resurgence.

The focus on skills development both for young people and for mature age people is also positive and reflects broad industry concerns. The business community looks forward to participating in the development of more detailed policies to ensure the objectives in this area are achieved.

While the targets set out in the plan are welcome and are useful in signalling where attention should be directed, in a number of cases clear measures are not adopted or are insufficient.  For example, there are no targets set for the reduction in business regulation. Without these it will be difficult to measure progress. In other cases the measures that are set are far from being stretch targets. The business investment targets are a case in point.

An important dimension of the plan for business is the commitment to ensure adequate supplies of water and energy. Encouragement and incentives to businesses that improve the efficiency of their use of water and energy should play a central role in achieving sustainable and secure supplies of water and energy.

The Government's long-term commitments on greenhouse gas emissions are very ambitious and close attention will need to be paid to the means by which these commitments can be best achieved. Particular attention will need to be given to ensuring that in shooting for environmental goals NSW does not undermine its attractiveness for business investment and job creation.

A disappointing omission from the plan is its failure to commit to tangible improvements in the competitiveness of the State's tax system. Thus this major factor in NSW being an expensive place to operate and lacking in competitiveness within Australia and the region is overlooked.