Straightshooting Report Pushes COAG to Lift Its Pace

The COAG Reform Council’s (CRC) first report on the performance of Australian governments in delivering a streamlined national economy provides an admirably honest assessment of where microeconomic reform can be improved.

Responding to the National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy Report on Performance 2008-09, the President of the Business Council of Australia, Graham Bradley, said the report lays out the opportunities to pick up progress in reform areas essential to economic growth.

“The report highlights promising progress in most of the 27 regulatory “hotspots”, which is welcome given the priority the BCA has placed on these reforms for some time,” Mr Bradley said.

“But we must keep up momentum in the competition agenda if Australia is to meet the federal government’s two per cent target on annual productivity growth,” Mr Bradley said

 “Poor progress in half of the eight areas targeted for competition reform, in particular infrastructure, transport policy and road reform, is a concern to BCA members,” Mr Bradley said.

“This must be addressed if Australia is to achieve the productivity outcomes we need to sustain growth and living standards.”

In a recent speech outlining his priorities as BCA President, Mr Bradley highlighted the need to create a truly seamless national economy.

In the speech he reinforced the need to improve and better utilise Australia’s productive infrastructure by getting more value for money.

He said in the speech that while the BCA continued to support government spending on infrastructure, decisions needed to be within the context of a “robust, transparent and long-term assessment of our infrastructure needs”.

Mr Bradley said the accountability apparent in the COAG Reform Council report reflects well on the Rudd Government for having committed to an independent review process and was a credit to the CRC itself and governments across Australia.

“As the BCA highlighted in its Charter for New Federalism in 2007, a properly resourced and independent body such as the CRC can play a vital role in keeping governments to their commitments on the delivery of Australia’s microeconomic reform agenda,” he said.

“This first report by the CRC emphasises the BCA’s position that competition and regulatory reform is a win-win for Australian business and Australian households. It also reinforces the importance of reform as we recover from the GFC and address challenges of an ageing population and potential domestic capacity constraints.”