BCA urges Government to reclaim Australia’s competitiveness in 2024-25 budget

27 February 2024

The Business Council of Australia is calling on the Federal Government to urgently address Australia’s global competitiveness warning signs with practical actions in the Budget to be delivered in May of this year, otherwise investment and jobs will go elsewhere.

In its pre-budget submission, provided to the Treasury in January, the Business Council made a range of suggestions for how this Budget can help secure economic opportunities for a productive future for all Australians.

Business Council Chief Executive Bran Black said that declining Australian economic competitiveness, and the resulting lessening of investment flowing into Australia, is already hurting the wider Australian community.

“This isn’t just a concern for business—Australian quality of life is at stake when we start losing out to other nations, because our capacity to afford the future we all want is reduced,” Mr Black said.

“This Budget needs to help us get more out of every dollar spent and hour worked—to be more productive—so that Australians can enjoy the benefits with higher wages and a better quality of life.

“To be more productive, we need to compete harder and win more investment on the global stage, where we have shockingly been a net exporter of capital since 2019—this shouldn’t be the case for a growing country like ours.

“We’ve dropped in global competitiveness rankings from fourth in 2004 to 19th in 2023, which is a scary decline, and due in large part to excessive overregulation to the point that some investors don’t want to come here while other nations are rolling out the red carpet for them.

“That’s why we are recommending a range of practical measures that can help Australia keep its competitive edge, for the Treasurer and responsible ministers to consider in the budget process.”

Mr Black said the practical recommendations to the Government included a range of both quick win measures and larger policy reforms.

“We have to give Australians, particularly younger ones, more confidence in their financial future with measures including clear fiscal rules like tax-to-GDP caps, and genuine efforts at productivity generating tax reform, otherwise we will continue to embed intergenerational unfairness,” Mr Black said.

“We also need to get more competitive with our regulatory and planning settings, and not continue to let red tape thrive, which is why we have recommended a national reform fund to incentivise states with payments for making productivity generating reform.

“We can’t sit on our laurels—the US has the Inflation Reduction Act and the UK has built a strategy to win more foreign investment with the Harrington Review, so if we don’t get serious about this the rest of the world will eat our dinner.

“The critical test of success for policy we develop and fund in the next year will be whether it reduces or strengthens our long-term competitiveness as a nation.”

You can read our full pre-budget submission here.


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