Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott has opined that the government’s choices on red tape, tax and unemployment will be crucial to Australia’s recovery post-COVID-19.
She has asked the government to reconsider whether we really need some of the regulations that have been suspended during the crisis and to consider enacting reforms that will increase the competitiveness of our tax system.
“We will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with our reputation as a safe country enhanced. We now need to ensure we also have the advantage of an efficient and competitive tax system that actually attracts investment to our shores,” Ms Westacott said.
“As we chart the course forward, we should act on the quick reforms that will get new investment flowing and get started on the bigger, more long-term growth plan.”
Opining that “Australia is in a good position to plan for a strong recovery”, Ms Westacott revealed that, according to BCA research, 40 per cent of workers that faced unemployment due to COVID-19 were already at the highest risk of falling into long-term joblessness.
“These are the same group of people who never found work again after the recession of the 1990s. So, it’s important we do everything we can to make sure they are not left behind,” Ms Westacott said.
One of the most important questions the government needs to ask itself before enacting reform, she said, is whether a certain piece of legislation can spur stable employment.
Ms Westacott said: “We need a system that lets people rapidly upskill as the world changes by giving them access to micro-credentials that let them build their own qualifications and a life-long skills account they can use as they need.
“Our modelling makes the point that workers in accommodation, food, retail, construction and manufacturing have been hardest hit. Going forward, reforms that make it easier for companies to do business in Australia will help create jobs.”
She also called for a simpler workplace relations system and an enterprise bargaining system that works better for employers and employees.
Ms Westacott concluded that the focus and co-operation seen during the containment phase of the coronavirus needs to now be directed towards setting ourselves up for a strong recovery.
“These things are possible with shared vision and purpose. As we prepare for the long journey of the recovery, I encourage people to put aside their ideological constraints and abandon their biases against business,” she said.