“These figures reveal growth is patchy across the economy and underscore the risks if Australia fails to respond to our international competitors’ moves to cut company tax,” Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said following the release of the December quarter national accounts.
“This mixed bag of economic indicators is a sobering reminder that Australia must urgently boost its international competitiveness by reducing business taxes and overhauling bad regulation that are together strangling investment.
“The headline quarterly growth number reverses the previous quarter’s decline but annual growth, most notably on a per capita basis, remains subdued. Higher resource prices contributed strongly to the turnaround, with the gains amplified by past investments and ongoing productivity improvements in the mining sector.
“The quarterly increase in new business investment, the first increase in more than three years, is welcome news. The challenge now is to lock in that trajectory.
“If nurtured, these green shoots can help to build a stronger and more resilient economy. Australia cannot rely on higher resource prices for enduring growth, given volatility in global markets.
“Greater business investment leads to faster economic growth which, as we know from past experience, flows to workers through higher wages.
“We must pull every lever to boost our competitiveness and attract new investment. The alternative is to simply muddle through and accept a future of low growth and poorer standards of living.
“Donald Trump’s promise of a ‘big, big cut’ in taxes for American companies is bad news for Australia, which is falling farther behind in the global race for investment.
“There are only so many investor dollars in the world, and money will always flow to the most profitable investments, supporting workers in those countries and bolstering their wages.
“Parliament must pass the government’s company tax plan in full as it is the bare minimum needed to ensure Australia remains attractive to global investors.”
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