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Federal Election an opportunity to reboot policies for prosperity and growth

"The announcement that the Federal Election will be held on May 18 is an opportunity for all sides of politics to reboot the policy agenda and assert national leadership to promote investment, job creation, broader community prosperity and social cohesion," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"With significant parts of the economy slowing since the middle of last year, setting clear positive policy directions will help lift consumer and business confidence and support investment and jobs growth in the near term and see Australia add to its longer-term run of strong performance.  

"The key economic foundations of the successes over 27 years of uninterrupted growth have been the openness and flexibility of the economy including the floating exchange rate, receptiveness to global trade and investment, independent monetary policy and decentralised enterprise bargaining. 

"These economic settings have been supported by Australia’s unique wages safety net centred around industrial awards and independently-administered minimum wages, a rise in educational attainment and our strong social institutions including Medicare, our superannuation system and our sharply redistributive tax and transfer system. 

"These are very firm foundations on which the next government can build to meet future challenges and to ensure we are positioned to take advantage of the considerable economic and social opportunities before us.

"Central among Australia’s opportunities are the very strong prospect of further rapid income growth in our region of the world with the accelerating rise of the “Asian middle class” and the further opportunities for innovation and improvements to practices in both the private and public sectors enabled by the adoption of digital technologies. 

"At the same time, greater global engagement, the rise of new centres of economic success and the growing adoption of digital technologies and automation are disrupting existing businesses, industries and occupations.  While these same forces are creating new opportunities they also bring new challenges.

"Like many other developed economies, Australia faces cross-currents of dissatisfaction and distrust associated with the transformations in the global economy compounded by the failures that led to the Global Financial Crisis.   Closer to home, the revelations in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has fueled further distrust.

"The sense that “the system” is not working for some needs to be taken seriously in the formulation, design and communication of policy as the political parties finalise their election agendas.

"An immediate challenge is the current period of relatively low real wages growth which is evident across the world’s developed economies and which is intimately associated with the transforming global economy and disruptive technological change.

"Ai Group’s policy priorities for the 2019 Federal Election which are available at this link and below form a positive and proactive agenda for sustainable increases in Australians’ incomes, jobs, living standards and broader community prosperity and social cohesion. 

“This agenda recognises and builds on Australia’s considerable successes. 

"Critically, Australia’s leaders need to avoid poorly-conceived and populist proposals that are evident in many parts of the world including in Australia and that play to the cross-currents of distrust and dissatisfaction referred to above.   In Australia, they include a range of negative and divisive policies that would undermine the foundations on which Australia’s relative outperformance over recent decades has rested.

"While the causes of dissatisfaction and distrust need to be taken seriously, it is no less critical that Australia’s major parties put aside the temptation to adopt populist rhetoric and populist policy measures and opt instead for substance and policy rigour," Mr Willox said.