Browse Decision a Stark Warning to Act on High Costs

“The decision by Woodside Energy Limited to shelve its proposed Browse LNG project near James Price Point in Western Australia is a stark warning of the cost pressures in the Australian economy,” Business Council of Australia President Tony Shepherd said.

“This is a worrying sign because these major projects are the main game in Australia’s economy. Missing out on opportunities like this impacts on the whole nation. If we don’t ensure major projects can be delivered more efficiently then our standard of living will be reduced.

“Today’s decision adds to the deferral of BHP’s Olympic Dam project as two very big examples of what the Business Council has been saying for some time, that Australia has become a high cost and low productivity place to do business and this is placing important investment at risk.

“Australia’s economic fundamentals might be sound, but the warning signs are building that we must redouble our efforts to drive down business costs, and pull out all stops to ensure businesses have the flexibility and the confidence to stay competitive in a tough global economy.

“The high costs are not just affecting the very large project investors either, they are spilling over into the broader economy, as yesterday’s rising unemployment figures and the recent sharp fall in consumer sentiment shows.

“All this reinforces the need for the forthcoming federal budget to be an economic confidence booster, not a budget that resorts to ad hoc new taxes and revenue grabs to plug short-term holes.

“If the budget sends the wrong signals to business through new taxes and measures which restrict the flexibility to stay competitive then the risk of more investment being withdrawn will rise.

“The government must act now to support business confidence by ruling out further targeting of business tax arrangements in the budget, and acknowledge that urgent steps are needed to get the cost of doing business in Australia down.

“We can no longer avoid the need to put in place a plan for comprehensive tax reform, to reform our workplaces so they are more competitive and flexible, to end the rising tide of red tape such as our inefficient and costly environmental approvals and to improve our project planning approval times.

“Getting the cost of doing business down is a project that must succeed for the long-term prosperity of all Australians,” Mr Shepherd said.
 
For further information contact:
Scott Thompson, Director, Media and Public Affairs
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (03) 8664 2664 | Mobile 0403 241 128