Response to Harper Review Will Be Transformative

“Treasurer Scott Morrison has today announced a transformative agenda for national competition reform that will boost business competitiveness, grow the economy and create the right environment for job creation,” BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“If implemented well, today’s announcement will be a defining moment in Australia’s economic journey.

“The national competition reforms of the 1990s left Australia a more competitive and stronger economy, delivering robust real wages growth and a sustained lift in productivity. The comprehensive reform agenda announced by the Treasurer today has the potential to do the same.

“This agenda has the right focus on tackling archaic impediments to competition to reinvigorate competitiveness, stimulate innovation and modernise the Australian economy.

“The primary beneficiaries will be consumers, who will receive greater choice and lower prices.

“We welcome the government’s intention to pursue much-needed reform in areas essential for business competitiveness, such as planning and zoning, retail trading, infrastructure regulation and road pricing.

“In particular, injecting contestability into the delivery of human services will build on significant effort already invested by states and territories, and will make a significant difference in delivering higher quality and more efficient health outcomes.

“We also welcome the government’s intention to work with states and territories to co-design governance arrangements which can deliver on this ambitious agenda. Substantive reform will only be delivered if there is a powerful, durable and independent body established to assess progress, like the National Competition Council in the 1990s.

“The use of ‘productivity payments’ for delivery of substantive reform will provide compelling incentives for reform and will share the revenue gains across governments.

“The government has accepted a number of recommendations to simplify the Competition and Consumer Act and lower costs to businesses. We welcome the commitment to consultation and encourage the use of Regulatory Impact Statements where changes expand the coverage of the legislation.

“The lesson from the successful national competition reforms of the past is that all levels of government must work together to achieve positive economic outcomes for the country.

“The December COAG meeting is an opportunity for Premiers and Chief Ministers to show national leadership by signing up to the reform agenda and the governance framework.

“The Business Council also looks forward to the upcoming discussion paper on section 46, and welcomes the opportunity to engage constructively with the government and other key stakeholders to develop a shared understanding about the best way forward in the interests of consumers.

“Throughout the National Competition Review, the Business Council has advocated for the vast majority of the recommendations now supported by the government. It is a credit to Professor Harper and the panel that this important body of work has received such a positive response,” Ms Westacott said.

For further information contact:
Matt Newton, Communications Adviser
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (02) 8664 9207 • Mobile 0409 550 578