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Ai Group looks for measures to maximise NSW growth opportunities

"The Australian Industry Group will be looking to tomorrow's NSW Budget to deliver a range of policy priorities critical to building the productive capacity of the state and delivering lasting benefits for the State’s industry, workforce and community,” Ai Group NSW Head Mark Goodsell said today.

"Despite healthy headline figures, NSW conditions are mixed across sectors and pressures on profit margins persist due to elevated energy costs which can't be passed on to consumers in the highly competitive pricing environment. There are also risks to the outlook for the NSW economy and considerable challenges to navigate.

"This means that the NSW Government must use the 2019-20 Budget to put in place meaningful and lasting measures that lift opportunities for growth, investment and job creation. This will be critical in providing the foundation for a strong and competitive state while also underwriting NSW’s financial position over the longer term.

"In particular, we call on the NSW Government to focus on reducing business costs and promoting long-term economic growth for the wellbeing of the local community through genuine taxation reform and ensuring that NSW businesses are not at a competitive disadvantage with their interstate competitors. We also caution against imposing new or increased taxes on investment and job creation to make up for the reduction in stamp duties on purchases of residential property.

"We also call for measures to address the considerable cost burden and impediments of doing business imposed by inefficient, outdated and anti-competitive regulations. This includes creating more flexible regulatory measures to promote room for innovation and “breakthrough” improvements in industry performance while reducing costs and other burdens on industry.

"The Government also has a key role to play in building a responsive and flexible workforce by investing in education and skills development to enable all NSW businesses and employees to reach their full potential in the context of rapidly evolving technologies and the emergence of new work opportunities.

"In addressing this issue, we believe that the Government must show a commitment to lifting funding and developing the focus of NSW VET systems (in cooperation with the Commonwealth) so that it is best placed to meet the emerging vocational skill needs of industry, including the next waves of technological and business model change.

"We commend the Government’s commitment to maintaining a substantial level of investment in high quality infrastructure projects throughout NSW. It is important that the on-going roll-out of these major projects is strongly focussed on competitive local capacity, capability, skills and supply chains to ensure that we maximise the benefits of these investments for our local communities. All proposed infrastructure projects must be subject to thorough and transparent cost-benefit analysis to ensure the government gets the best possible use of taxpayer funds," Mr Goodsell said.

Ai Group’s priorities for the 2019-20 NSW Budget are in this Pre Budget submission:
Ai Group NSW 2019-20 Pre-Budget Statement

Key points include:

  • Tax: Promote long-term economic growth for the wellbeing of the local community by removing or lowering taxes and charges that hinder or discourage investment and job creation . This includes simplifying tax scales and thresholds to avoid multiple rate scales which increases complexity and introducing regular and effective monitoring of the compliance costs borne by businesses to clearly identify cost impacts and priority areas for reform.
  • Energy reliability and affordability: Establish a clear pathway and timetable for a better supplied and more competitive gas market. This includes a timely decision on the Narrabri coal seam gas project proposed by Santos plus reforms for gas approvals that create a more efficient and predictable process while while ensuring community concerns are answered.
  • Regulatory compliance and costs: Drive best practice in regulatory design and implementation and reduce the considerable cost burden imposed on business and the community by inefficient, outdated and anticompetitive regulations. This includes a focus on achieving genuine harmonisation of state-based laws (or centralisation of laws to the Federal level) by developing and reviewing regulatory instruments in concert with other state and territory governments.
  • Procurement: Utilise the NSW Government’s purchasing power to the lift opportunities for the development of competitive NSW and Australian industries. This includes recognising the need to consider “whole-of-life” costs that takes account of through-life servicing and support which are key advantages that local suppliers offer, and which is especially needed in major projects and major technology intensive purchases.
  • Infrastructure: Ensure NSW has adequate and appropriate infrastructure and services with project delivery strongly focused on competitive local capacity, capability, skills and supply chains to ensure that we maximise the benefits of these major projects for our local communities. Projects should be rolled-out as part of a consistent pipeline which helps to minimise capacity constraints and enables major projects to be funded and developed in a timely manner.
  • Waste management: Encourage the use of recycled materials in government procurement and give careful consideration of support for waste-to-energy facilities; initiate education campaigns aimed at households and workplaces to promote good recycling practices and; work with industry and the waste sector to explore cost-effective options to support and promote the circular economy.
  • Support for the regions: Address the need for stronger regional development plans to encourage the spread of business and jobs growth to the regions, targeting regional infrastructure, telecommunications, education and training, and business innovation systems to stimulate economic activity and support regional communities.

Media enquiries:
Mark Goodsell - 0418 408 871