The COAG Reform Council’s 2010 Progress Report provides a timely reminder of the responsibilities that all governments have to get on with the structural reforms needed to further strengthen our economy.
The Business Council of Australia has been a staunch advocate for COAG to deliver a comprehensive national reform agenda that will boost productivity and improve Australia’s economic potential.
Responding to the COAG Reform Council report, BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey said that it rightly highlights the principal challenges for COAG to boost productivity, increase workforce participation and deliver better services to the community.
However, she said the report demonstrates that COAG has become weighed down by an overloaded agenda and a complex set of processes and agreements.
“This is preventing more tangible progress against COAG’s stated goals and a corresponding lack of results on the ground.
“The BCA has recommended to the new government that one of its priorities for the first 100 days in office should be to convene a meeting of COAG to reset the COAG agenda. The agenda needs to have a sharper focus on a smaller number of reform priorities with the greatest potential to drive productivity growth in the near term,” Ms Lahey said.
The BCA is concerned about the ongoing lack of momentum in parts of the agenda, especially in the area of unfinished competition reforms. The COAG Reform Council notes that progress on regulatory harmonisation needs to be matched by more progress on competition reform, especially in transport and infrastructure.
The BCA has previously suggested to government that COAG’s policy priorities be reset with a focus on aspects of the seamless national economy, a national freight system, major cities planning, progress on e-health and improving teacher quality and vocational education and training.
“COAG must build on the institutional reforms to federal financial arrangements, and be persistent and disciplined in following through and implementing reforms,” Ms Lahey said.
In a speech to the National Press Club last week, BCA President Graham Bradley suggested the federal government should get on with the job of providing good government based on sound policies. COAG has an important role to play in driving progress and delivering outcomes that will enhance Australia’s productivity performance.