The Interstate Reform Partnership agreed between New South Wales and Victoria is a welcome step in kick-starting cross-border reforms to grow the national economy and lift productivity, Business Council of Australia President Tony Shepherd said.
“With COAG’s progress less than satisfactory, it is pleasing the leaders of Australia’s two biggest states, Premiers O’Farrell and Baillieu, appreciate the importance to the economy of structural reforms that lower business costs and encourage investment,” Mr Shepherd said.
“With both states accounting for 57 per cent of Australia’s population and 54 per cent of its GDP, the announcement has significant potential benefits for the national economy.
“The need to press ahead with structural reform to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of key national markets is particularly important given the current transformation that is occurring within the economy.
“The initial reforms agreed by New South Wales and Victoria under the partnership, as well as the issues they have identified for future reform and cooperation, will all make important contributions to a more competitive business environment and a stronger national economy.
“The council maintains the view that state-based energy efficiency schemes which will be inconsistent with the operation of a national emissions reduction scheme ought to be wound up to ensure least-cost emissions reduction.
“However, harmonisation of energy efficiency schemes in two of Australia’s largest markets is a welcome interim measure.
“The reforms to improve the targeting of apprenticeships to areas where there is unmet demand – as well as those to improve the take-up of competency-based completions – and the transferability of qualifications between jurisdictions will help address skills shortages and the need for greater mobility of the workforce.
“Measures to streamline the processes for international students will provide a welcome boost to efforts to restore this important contributor to the economy to full health,” he said.
The council looks forward to continuing to work with New South Wales and Victoria on economy-boosting reforms.