Opening Statement by BCA President Tony Shepherd at the Announcement of the New COAG Business Advisory Forum

Today’s announcement of the COAG Business Advisory Forum is a great opportunity to reset the agenda to get the federation working better.

Visit the website of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, for a transcript of the announcement.

Business is very keen to work directly with Australia’s first ministers about federal–state issues that are holding back our productivity and competitiveness.

Businesses, big and small, are affected daily by the dead hand of red tape and inefficiency in our federal system. Different rules and regulations in our nine federal, state and territory jurisdictions are a major drag on our economy and a huge cost to business and consumers.

We welcome the chance to help our governments drive better progress in the deregulation agenda. We are also really pleased the premiers will be supporting this initiative.

At a time when our economy is undergoing huge change and facing many pressures from a tough global environment, we must pull out all stops to reduce unnecessary costs of doing business.

COAG is an important forum for reforms to lift our productivity but it needs to focus on delivering real benefits on the ground.

There needs to be fewer things on COAG’s agenda and a greater focus on things that really matter. For example, we must complete trade licensing recognition which will make it easier for workers to move to where the jobs are.

Unfinished competition reforms on energy markets and transport infrastructure regulation are also vital productivity boosters.

But we must also be conscious that harmonising rules and regulation for the sake of it is not the answer if all we are going to get is worse regulation in every jurisdiction.

The focus has to be on reducing costs, making it easier to do business, and removing the barriers to the free flow of goods and services, jobs, and investment around our country.