It’s all about confidence stupid!
Australia’s economic fundamentals might be sound but for too long business and consumer confidence has been battered by ongoing political instability and an increasing preoccupation by our politicians on attaining and retaining power rather than governing the country. Businesses are frustrated and disillusioned with this focus on politicking rather than policy.
In Canberra and the region they are already dealing with a global economy that remains volatile and slow to recover from the GFC, a Commonwealth Government that is contracting both its purchasing and employment and a seven month “claytons” election campaign that has frozen much decision-making within the Commonwealth Government. There is constant speculation about the magnitude of likely cuts to the public service; the labour market has softened – unemployment is increasing; investment has been strong but is slowing; growth of GST revenue continues to erode; and below average growth in residential and commercial activity has reduced taxation revenue.
Is it any wonder that business and consumer confidence both remain fragile? The latest NAB
Monthly Business Survey for May 2013 shows that overall business conditions remains weak and business confidence is poor. Forward orders, capacity utilisation and employment conditions were well below average levels while any confidence gained from the falling dollar and May interest rate cut has been undermined by weakness in the domestic economy.
The best thing the newly re-elected Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, can do for Australia, the economy and Canberra is to bring on an election as soon as possible so that the country and the economy can regain certainty and confidence.
In the meantime here are a few suggestions for both sides of politics as they head into the Federal Election:
1. RECOGNISE THE CRITICAL ROLE THAT BUSINESS PLAYS as the creator of jobs, innovation and wealth.
2. SHELVE ANTI-BUSINESS LEGISLATION currently before the parliament – such as changes to 457 visa laws, right of entry for unions and the legislation of penalty rates.
3. CUT DOWN ON RED TAPE AND REGULATION
Regulation is suffocating small business. The costs and time involved in complying with those regulations is bad enough, and the unnecessary duplication makes it even worse. Let’s cut the red tape and give small business a break.
4. SIMPLIFY THE TAX SYSTEM
Our tax and finance systems are impossible for the average small business person to understand and comply with. Many small businesses need to employ specialists and the whole process adds unnecessary cost and time while draining entrepreneurship. Let’s ease the tax burden and make it simpler.
5. MAKE IT EASIER TO EMPLOY PEOPLE
Australia has become a very costly place for small business to hire, keep and dismiss staff. And when times are tough, that means jobs and hours get cut. It’s also too hard to get workers with the right skills. Let’s make it easier to employ people and create more jobs.
6. BUILD BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE
Support enabling infrastructure to lift productivity and create jobs.In Australia we talk a lot but it’s time to move past rhetoric and actually do something about it.For Canberra and the region this means
• Building the Australia Forum Convention Centre NOW and
• Putting a High Speed Rail connection between Canberra and Sydney (as a first stage in linking the East Coast capitals) out to the market NOW, rather than in 15 years time.Both of
these projects will deliver positive economic returns, create jobs and provide opportunities for businesses across in the ACT and region.