Business Welcomes Senate Debate

The Business Council of Australia said today it strongly supports reform of the Senate and efforts to engage the wider community in this debate.

“We need to consider ways to address deadlocks in the Senate to allow the elected government of the day to progress its legislation while not undermining the role of opposition and minor parties to review and refine legislation,” BCA Chief Executive Ms Katie Lahey said.

Debate on Senate reform should focus on the role, function and effectiveness of the Senate as part of Australia’s wider governing and decision making processes Ms Lahey said.

“It is about ensuring that we have the right structures and frameworks in place to enable decisions to be taken to support Australia’s long term growth and prosperity.”

Business has become increasingly concerned that key legislation, aimed at ensuring sustained growth in Australia remains blocked.

Recent examples of legislation unlikely to be passed by the Senate include:

  • International tax legislation to assist Australian businesses, large and small, to compete effectively in the global economy.
  • Higher Education reforms to place Australian Universities on a more secure footing and provide greater incentives for innovation.
  • Reform allowing small businesses to take advantage of the government’s proposals for more relaxed unfair dismissal laws.

While the government has the option of a double dissolution, Ms Lahey noted that this is a cumbersome and expensive approach and that Australia needs fewer not more elections.

“The Business Council has consistently supported a move to fixed four-year terms and we would not want to see recourse to double dissolution elections that further shorten the election cycle and policy horizons.”

“There are clearly better ways to resolve differences over legislation in the Senate without resorting to delay and partisan politics that compromise good public policy.”