IR reform top concern for SMEs

Industrial relations reform, cutting red tape, and regulatory burdens and implementing tax reform are ranked as the top business policy priorities for the next federal government, according to the latest Australian Industry (Ai) Group survey. Resource-3

In the lead up to the federal election Ai Group surveyed more than 330 businesses across the manufacturing, services ,and construction sectors on their policy priorities.

Industrial relations reform to boost productivity was the number one overall priority for Australian businesses (on a weighted average basis) and almost a quarter (23.1 per cent) nominated it as their biggest concern.

More than 30 per cent of manufacturing businesses ranked it as their greatest priority.

“It’s not at all surprising that IR reform is the key business policy concern for the next government,” Innes Willox, CEO of Ai Group said.

“As we have been advocating since the Fair WorkaAct introduction and in the subsequent reviews of the act, changes are needed in a number of areas to provide greater flexibility to employers and to rebalance the current excessive weight given to Union interests,” Willox said.

“Reducing red tape and regulatory duplication was the second highest policy priority overall and the greatest concern for small business. This in large part reflects the onerous time commitment required of owner/managers in complying with regulatory obligations. Reducing red tape and regulatory duplication is also a high priority for businesses in the construction sector, with over 40 per cent reporting this as their highest priority.

Rounding out the top three priorities is reducing company tax rates and implementing tax reform. This was a particular concern for businesses in the services sector with more than a quarter of all service providers ranking tax reform as their top priority.

“This report is a significant and timely gauge of business sentiment and priorities in this pre-election period. Business is looking for genuine commitment and action in these areas from the next government. As always, we welcome further discussion with all sides of politics on policies that support productivity and growth,” Willox said.

In addition to implementing the Henry Tax Review recommendation to cut the company tax rate to 25 per cent, a number of respondents across the country also identified changing the Goods and Service Tax (GST) as a key part of a program of tax reform.

Top five business policy priorities for next government (on weighted average basis):

1 Industrial relations reform to boost productivity

2 Reducing red tape and regulatory duplication

3 Reducing company tax rates and implementing tax reform

4 Investing in physical infrastructure

5 Encouraging workforce skills and training.

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