Top 10 in 10, 10 steps to Restoring Australia's Competitiveness in 10 Years

James Pearson, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

In this election, Australian businesses are asking candidates and political parties, decision makers and opinion leaders, to support policies that will make Australia a more competitive country.

We are setting out a plan to get Australia back where we belong, in the top 10 of the global competitiveness index, the measure of the world’s most competitive economies.

And we are asking people like you, the businesswomen and men who are part of Australia’s largest and most representative business network, the Australian Chamber, to help us to give business a voice in this election.
Becoming one of the world's most competitive countries again; will mean that we will be able to attract investment, encourage enterprise and create wealth and jobs at a scale that we need to meet the expectations of an ageing and growing population. 

It means that our economy will be stronger, more able to withstand shocks, more certain to provide benefits to households and families, and better placed to support the high standards of living we have come to expect and which we want for our children.

Australia has been in the top 10 before and we can be there again.  

In my meetings with business leaders and operators, large and small, it's clear that they want people to understand how important it is that the next Australian government supports business - by reducing company tax, cutting red tape and making it easier to employ and train people and engage with employees - as well as by getting government spending under control. 

We are working with our network to help people understand that helping business to invest, to grow and create wealth and jobs, is the best way to deliver benefits to households and families.

With your support, today we launch our election campaign to reclaim Australia’s economic competitiveness - our top 10 in 10.  10 steps to get Australia back in to the top 10 most competitive countries within 10 years.

Our prescription for Australia includes measures to improve investment in infrastructure, introduce more competition in taxpayer funded services, and make it easier to attract more people to our shores to visit and to work.

Businesses and their workers have to adapt to increased competition, new technology and expectations of new ways of working.  

And so should government. 

That’s why we are calling for bipartisan backing for business, because almost 90% of Australians work in the private sector; almost all of us work on, in or for a business. Certainly, every one of us in this country depends on the goods and services that, more often than not, only business can provide. So helping business is, simply, the best way we can help our country get back to being one of the most competitive economies in the world.

And so should unions.

It’s time for government and business to hold the union movement to account. Will unions work with, or against, employers, as we do our part to build a flexible, modern economy that can deliver increased standards of living in a volatile and uncertain world?

We are an economy in transition; a nation at the crossroads. 

We cannot be complacent. 

Other nations are embracing policies to increase the competitiveness of their economies, they are overtaking us as destinations for investment, growth and talent, and their people are reaping the rewards.

Government must empower Australians to realise our full potential as a nation. Government must not be a roadblock to reform. 
Whichever party becomes the government after this election has it within their grasp to commit to sensible reform to allow us to compete in the global marketplace. 

The 10 steps are practical and achievable, and need to be implemented at the earliest opportunity after the election.  Without this commitment, we will consign our children, and theirs, to a lacklustre economic future. 
By committing to our top 10 goal, and the steps to get there, political leaders can help to create a more competitive Australia.

10 steps to get us back into the top 10 in 10 years.  These are the business priorities for the 2016 federal election.

The 10 steps are not theoretical, not highbrow policy, but steps that will make a real difference on the ground to businesses. 

Not just here in Sydney, arguably our most international of cities, not just here in NSW, our oldest state, but for businesses everywhere; from regional communities in Tasmania to towns in the northern territory; from the still-mighty mines in our north west to agribusiness on the Queensland downs; from the defence industry in south Australia to the world class attractions of Melbourne. And in my new home town, Canberra.

In fact, everywhere that is represented by the Australian Chamber through our network, represented in strength here today.

In these places you will find the small business owner, the entrepreneur, and the risk taker. These are the people that Australia needs to drive growth, and to create jobs.  

These are the men and women working long into the night to deal with the constant paperwork that ties them in red tape, and tearing their hair at regulation that stops them from putting in place arrangements with their staff that best allows their business to grow and share the rewards of success.  

These are our friends and neighbours, spending longer and longer in traffic due to productivity sapping log jams on our roads, who are stymied by the pace of our digital infrastructure.

These are mothers and fathers, who shake their heads that governments, both state and federal, have sat on their hands while poor policy making has undermined one of Australia’s greatest tools for skills development - the apprenticeship and trades training.  

Ladies and gentlemen, it is to our shame that our political leaders have allowed over a 40 per cent drop in apprentices in training in business in just four years, while at the same time intoning concern for a quarter of a million young Australian’s who are jobless.  

So for business owners everywhere, these 10 steps will speak to their issues.  

And not just small business.  We should stand here today proud of the big businesses that have grown from their small business beginnings to employ millions of Australians in companies that are reaching out to the world.  These 10 steps speak to them as well.  

It is time for an end to the pointless pitting of small business against big business.

Small is beautiful. But that doesn’t mean that big is bad.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest and most representative business network. We speak for over 300,000 enterprises providing jobs to over 4 million people.

We speak on behalf of businesses of all sizes, from all sectors and in all parts of our country. 

And we get results.

In this election, we stand and speak with you. 

Join us in our advocacy, for top 10 in 10.

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Working for business. Working for Australia