Today’s announcement that an incoming Coalition government would establish a commission of audit to review the scope and size of government is an important and welcome initiative, said Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott.
“While there is broad agreement that greater fiscal discipline is essential if Australia is going to cope with pressures from an ageing population and infrastructure, the question will always be what political parties are prepared to do to achieve it,” said Ms Westacott.
“Global economic volatility affecting budget revenue in Australia shows that now is the time to start taking steps like the one announced by Mr Abbott this morning to address long-term fiscal and economic challenges.
“In making his announcement today, Mr Abbott cited our recent Budget Submission, which argues that a comprehensive review of public spending should start with a clean slate in terms of what government spending and what programs are required.”
Ms Westacott said the council had recommended changes to structurally improve the budget position over many years rather than simply tinker at the edges.
“It is critical that action be taken to address structural issues with the scope and size of government, and the only way of doing that is to undertake a comprehensive audit along the lines of what the Opposition Leader has outlined.
“To ensure a review like this is effective, politicians need to be prepared to find and adopt measures that will permanently change the nature of programs and payments – including those that will be politically difficult.”
She said that in the same way Australia had reaped great benefit from reforms of the 1980s and 1990s that were introduced with bipartisan political support, we need a national-interest approach to fiscal reform now.
“We encourage the government to support the idea of a wide-ranging commission of audit similar to that put forward today by Mr Abbott.”