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Welcome focus on productivity has business support

"Ai Group welcomes the focus the Treasurer placed on productivity in his speech to CEDA today in Canberra. This productivity agenda has the support of the Australian business community to help achieve the broad-based economic and social benefits that can flow from a concerted effort to lift national prosperity," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"Ai Group, along with others in the business community, are persistent backers of a pro-productivity drive that lifts investment, promotes the creation of attractive and fulfilling jobs and delivers the sustainably dynamic economy that we need if we are to raise Australian living standards and underwrite a more inclusive and cohesive society.

"Just as the Treasurer is urging the buy-in and involvement of the States and Territories, the business community recognises that turning these objectives into realities requires backing from across the political spectrum and the support and involvement of the broader community.

"Business has a leading role to play. Its leadership in the development of energy policy and its involvement with the broader community through the multi-sectoral Australian Climate Roundtable has proven to be instrumental to date. The further involvement and leadership of the business community will be critical to the successful development of a bipartisan and broadly-supported path from this point.

"Business also has a leadership role to play in the other policy agendas raised by the Treasurer and highlighted by the Productivity Commission in its Five-year Productivity Review released today. This agenda ranges from the more effective delivery of services in health and education; fiscally sustainable, fair and pro-investment tax reform; and in the more linked-up approach to infrastructure and planning required to progress the better cities agenda.

"The Productivity Commission report also makes the case that all three education sectors – schools, the VET system and higher education – are underperforming. This is particularly the case in terms of preparing graduates from all sectors for the workforce. This argument has been advanced by the Australian Industry Group for some time on the back of what employers tell us. The benefits of further removing VET qualifications and the assessment system away from industry has not been made. The movement to 'proficiency grading' is worthy of further investigation but would most effectively occur within the context of a comprehensive review of the VET sector.

"In short, there is an opportunity now to build the foundations of a more wealthy, cohesive and inclusive society. While there is no shortage of eminently sensible policy directions, in recent years we have lacked the good sense to work more closely together to achieve these shared objectives," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347