Change of Policy Must Benefit All Businesses

The Daily Telegraph
27 March 2012

By Tony Shepherd
President, Business Council of Australia

The current debate in Canberra about which sector of Australian business, large or small, most needs or deserves a tax cut is dangerously misleading.

What we should be having is a debate about what is the right tax system to keep Australia competitive, provide the revenue to pay for top-quality services in the community, and support growth, job creation and higher living standards. Allowing ourselves to get bogged down in who looks out for the little guy creates two problems.

First, it is a cop-out from dealing comprehensively with the problems in our tax system. Like the reality that Australian businesses are still effectively paying eight cents in the dollar more than their Asian competitors.

Second, it is another example of politicians pitting one section of the community against the other, in this case large versus small business.

In the real economy, there is no divide between large and small business. There is just “business’’, and business is the sector that creates wealth that affords Australia its services and living standards.

Businesses of different sizes are deeply interdependent. We contribute to each other’s success and play complementary roles in keeping Australia’s economy strong.

In pursuing policy to keep our economy strong and resilient, it is important to understand how different parts of it fit together and serve each other, and the national interest.

Given the vast common ground that exists it is hardly surprising that we are calling for many of the same policy improvements.

This includes better infrastructure to make it easier to get to work, to transport goods and to provide services on time at a competitive cost. We need easier access to skilled staff and less red tape. Longer term we need to lower tax for all businesses – the Henry review recommended a rate of 25 per cent – and we need to get rid of the myriad of nuisance state taxes and charges that discourage investment, job creation and growth.

To ensure our future we need to support all businesses to compete fairly, to interact and, most importantly, fulfill their potential.
One thing is certain, we’re not going to be able to pull together and do what’s needed if politicians pit sections of the community against each other. The reality is that our success is deeply interconnected.