CANBERRA, AAP – Business is urging Josh Frydenberg to take the opportunity to put in place policies to provide long-term economic growth, rather than a short-term comeback from last year’s recession.
In its 2021/22 budget submission, the Business Council of Australia says the federal treasurer must aim to empower the private sector to do the heavy lifting in the economy so business can get on with creating jobs, getting people back to work and investing.
“But one of the main roadblocks to success is the shockingly low rates of business investment,” the council’s chief executive Jennifer Westacott said releasing the submission of Wednesday.
“As a share of the economy, business investment is at a 28-year low.”
She said everything must be done to encourage big companies to make the large investments that would transform the economy and set the country up for growth.
The council calculates by growing the economy by just one per cent extra a year it would translate to an extra $20 billion of GDP, equal to $770 for each Australian and about $5 billion more to pay for government services.
“Next month’s budget gives Australia a once-in-a-generation opportunity build on the gains we’ve made managing COVID-19 to remain a frontrunner in the global recovery,” Ms Westacott said.
“But to capitalise on this and transform our economy for the future, we need to grow faster than the below-three per cent growth rates we were experiencing prior to the pandemic.”
The council says knee-jerk state border closures must end to rebuild confidence and create jobs.
It also calls for a national risk-based plan that links the vaccine rollout with sensible measures to unwind restrictions and unlock the economy.
It wants a 2050 net-zero emissions target put in place across the economy, “so everyone knows where we are heading and when we’ll get there”.
Investment incentives should be prioritised towards the energy sector and decarbonisation projects.
To improve the workforce’s skills and get people back to work, the council wants additional funding to support at least 1000 new digital micro-apprenticeships.
It believes basic skills for new jobs should be provided for free through a national foundation skills guarantee to cover literacy, numeracy and digital literacy.
Women’s workforce participation could be boosted by reducing the disincentives to work in the childcare subsidy, while increasing paid parental leave and encouraging more equal sharing of care.
Mr Frydenberg will hand down the budget on May 11.