"Over the past few years, Queensland has been undergoing a significant transition as the mining investment boom has unwound. This transition is having particular impacts in regions with a heavy reliance on the resources and energy sectors. While the State's jobs growth of over four percent in the past year has been the pacesetter nationally, considerable slack remains in the local labour market with unemployment and underemployment both well above national averages.
"With many Queenslanders looking for work or not able to find the hours of employment they would like, there is a need to lift the pace of jobs growth. This objective should be given priority both as a means of improving social inclusion and to lift the living standards of the Queensland population. A favourable environment for business investment and ongoing investment in the State's infrastructure are critical to deliver on the objective in ways that also support the necessary improvements that need to be made to the State's budget and our levels of public debt.
"To this end, the next Queensland Government should aim to achieve operating surpluses (adjusted to the state economic cycle and fluctuations in demand) and sustainable debt positions without resorting to higher taxes and charges," Mr Rodgers said.
"While further detail is provided below, key elements to the promotion of business investment include:
- Playing a constructive and cooperative role in the pursuit of the national objectives of reliable and competitively-priced energy.
- Ensuring an increase in investment in infrastructure both in the major cities and in the regions. Critically, this should include facilitating greater private sector investment in the State's infrastructure.
- Giving greater priority to improving the State's education and training arrangements. Action is needed to help make inroads into unemployment and underemployment; to lift our competitiveness; and to address the emerging areas of skills shortages.
- The next State Government needs to take priority action to reduce the costs of doing business in the State by focussing on reducing, streamlining and removing unnecessary costs and regulatory burdens. This includes collectively working with other state governments to minimise the complexity of taxes, fees and charges levied on business, by simplifying tax arrangements and by applying definitions in a more uniform manner across states.
- In this spirit, measures such as the new labour hire legislation and the proposal to superimpose industrial manslaughter provisions on the existing Workplace Health and Safety laws should be scrapped.
- The next State Government should also prioritise the development of the State's business capabilities by leveraging the State's competitive strengths and opportunities across a range of innovative, knowledge-intensive and high-margin businesses of the future, and maintaining the progress already made in key areas. This includes the Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap and Action Plan, the Made in Queensland Manufacturing Program and the tasking of the Queensland Productivity Commission to examine ways to boost the manufacturing sector. A major element in this is to recognise how the advanced manufacturing sector strengthens the value created by the State's traditional resources and agribusiness industries.
- Emphasis should also be given to providing a commitment to ongoing funding to Trade and Investment Queensland programs and its global footprint, to give exporters confidence in the Department and ensure that they are able to incorporate support into their strategic planning. Currently Queensland companies are missing out on the additional export capacity building programs enjoyed by exporters in other states. To address this deficit, we propose a program of state-wide industry-led training in best-practice exporting and increased investment in Trade Promotion programs to position Queensland industry as a world leader in the State's industrial strengths, use the global offices as launch pads and facilitate inbound buyer missions to showcase local capability.
“We commend these policy priorities to all parties,” Mr Rodgers said.
Further details of Ai Group’s Queensland Election policy priorities can be found at this link.
Tony Melville – 0419 190 347