Unfinished Business - Towards 2015 and beyond
The NSW Business Chamber’s policy blueprint, “Unfinished Business: Towards 2015 and beyond”, highlights five challenges which will need to be met by whichever political party forms government following the 2015 state election.
Unfinished Business - Towards 2015 and beyond
With an election set for 28 March 2015, the NSW Business Chamber is calling for all sides of politics to commit to a positive agenda for economic growth.
Together with our 17,000 strong membership, we have identified the five key priorities business wants addressed by whichever party forms government.
Fund and deliver more infrastructures across NSW through public asset swaps
Falling state revenues means that recycling state assets to help fund new infrastructure is the most sensible way to deliver essential transport, health and education projects without risking the budget bottom line.
Leasing 49 per cent the State’s electricity assets to fund infrastructure investment across the state will boost jobs and growth opportunities, particularly in regional NSW, where significant investment in such projects is long overdue.
Leasing the State’s electricity assets also will help deliver more affordable electricity in NSW. Since 1997 the publicly-run networks in NSW have increased their costs by a staggering 122 per cent. In contrast, since leasing its electricity networks in the 1990s, Victoria has seen network costs decline by 18 per cent.
Revitalise and reform Local Government
The current governance, financial and democratic structures of NSW’s 152 Councils are failing to meet the needs of the community.
Local government needs to be reformed to create stronger local councils that are well resourced, including with well-paid and resourced mayors and councillors.
NSW councils are facing an infrastructure backlog of more than $7 billion, and without establishing a new model of partnership between state and local government, opportunities to address the backlog will be missed and communities and the local businesses that support them will inevitably go backwards.
Deliver senior schooling more effectively to improve outcomes for young people
Policies that have emphasised student engagement over vocational outcomes have led to industry concerns that post-year 10 education and training in NSW is simply not preparing secondary school students for employment.
Beyond helping employers, giving secondary school students the skills they need to succeed in the workplace is about ensuring young people in NSW have the bright futures they deserve.
Whichever party is elected next March must think seriously about how NSW can deliver senior schooling more effectively by improving career information, advice and guidance; implementing minimum achievement standards for literacy and numeracy; and adjusting the balance between general education and VET.
Improve NSW’s energy security and address pricing challenges
Australia’s east coast gas market is undergoing a major period of transition as it opens up and begins to export gas. In all likelihood, projected shortages in gas supply will drive up gas prices and increase cost pressures on energy-using industries such as manufacturing.
NSW could start to see limitations in gas availability as early as next year, and with regulation stating that gas will be ‘turned off’ for large industrial users before households and essential services, the manufacturing sector will carry the disruption in the event of a gas shortage. This could result in businesses down-sizing or closing down and job losses in traditional manufacturing hubs such as Western Sydney and regional NSW
If the Government wants to ensure sufficient gas supply at an affordable price for households and businesses and protect manufacturing jobs in NSW, the state’s gas reserves must be developed.
NSW Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane has delivered a blueprint for the safe development of the state’s abundant gas supplies, and this report makes it clear that with appropriate regulatory controls, a world-class Coal Seam Gas regime can be established in NSW.
Put NSW on the front foot by creating a more competitive tax system
Helping businesses maintain and grow employment by reducing the business tax burden should be a key priority for the NSW Government.
There is significant opportunity to achieve greater tax efficiency in NSW by abolishing stamp duty on business mortgages, unlisted marketable securities and the transfer of non-real business assets.
Payroll taxes are higher in NSW than they are in both Queensland and Victoria, and this disparity places NSW businesses at a competitive disadvantage and creates an impediment to employment. With spending under control and the balance sheet secured, it is time that these substantial opportunities for tax reform be realised by whichever party is elected next March.
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