The federal opposition has outlined plans to establish a new Competition and Growth Taskforce, which has been praised as a means of “streamlining regulatory burdens” on business.
Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh (pictured) announced the plan at a press conference in Townsville, which he said aimed to “create a fairer economy through the mutuals and co-ops sector”.
However, Megan Motto, CEO of the Governance Institute of Australia, suggested the Taskforce could have wider benefits, including for small businesses, and said it would effectively reinstate the Corporations and Market Advisory Council (CAMAC), which it noted was abolished in 2015.
“We campaigned strongly against the abolition of CAMAC, which for decades has been a valuable source of independent advice to government about the issues facing company directors and their investors,” she said.
“It is excellent news that, if elected, this taskforce will place an immediate focus on completing the Annual General Meeting and Shareholder Engagement Report that CAMAC started.
“Shareholders of all kinds face challenges when participating in the corporate affairs of the companies in which they invest, and the Governance Institute has long advocated on behalf of its members for the reform of AGMs, an essential engagement point for shareholders, and vital to the governance of any company.”
According to the institute, overly burdensome red tape makes corporate reporting needlessly difficult, with some ASX 200 companies claiming close to $1 million in costs each year, despite falling shareholder attendance at AGMs.
The problems of corporate governance are even more difficult for small businesses, not-for-profits and charities, it said, which lack the same financial resources to meet this burden.
“In an election campaign that hasn’t had much of a focus on business and the regulatory burdens it faces, it’s good to see politicians taking up the challenge,” Ms Motto said.
“We support any measure by government to streamline regulatory burdens, boost growth and productivity, and encourage healthy competition.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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