COAG Meeting an Opportunity for Economic Growth

This weekend’s COAG meeting is an opportunity for Australia’s governments to show businesses that the economy is moving forward, says BCA president Greig Gailey.

Mr Gailey said today that the BCA believes the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting can play an important role in maintaining business confidence. To do this, the meeting should push ahead with reforms that raise productivity and reduce barriers for business.

“At this time of global financial and economic turmoil, clear leadership from governments is critical to economic growth,” Mr Gailey said.

“Right now we need businesses to have the confidence to employ and invest. Businesses will have significantly greater confidence when they see governments pushing ahead with reforms that enhance the productive capacity of the economy.

“This weekend at COAG, Australian governments have a chance to instil confidence. By pushing forward towards a seamless national economy, they will open up new opportunities for business.”

BCA research has confirmed the economic benefits to be gained from reforms in education, health, infrastructure, business regulation, water supply and other areas on the COAG agenda.

Mr Gailey welcomed reports that the federal government will offer a $500 million reform payment to states in return for unified business regulation and cuts to red tape.

Federal and state governments have been working towards removing state differences in business regulation in 27 key areas, including occupational health and safety, trades licensing and payroll tax.

“COAG has an opportunity to bring business regulation into line with the needs of a fast-paced, competitive, international economy,” Mr Gailey said.

“Our current fragmented economic regulation creates a whole range of unnecessary burdens and costs for business and the wider economy.

“There are 32,000 businesses operating across state borders. They are confronted with different rules for each of our eight states and territories, sometimes duplicated by national regulation.

“The economic burdens of ending this inefficiency have been estimated to be as high as $16 billion annually.

“Australia is part of a global economy. We need one national set of rules for business.”

The gains to be made from a seamless economy are detailed in the BCA’s March 2008 research report Towards a Seamless Economy: Modernising the Regulation of Australian Business.