Maeve Bannister and Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)
Lifelong learning incentives and bringing more women into the workforce could drive productivity and leave Australians substantially better off.
The Business Council of Australia has released a report outlining a series of policy shifts it believes will drive productivity growth and help the nation seize its economic future.
If implemented, the council expects the package of reforms to leave every Australian $7000 better off each year after a decade.
BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott said Australia needed a co-ordinated approach to strengthen its economic resilience.
“We cannot continue to experience record low levels of business investment as a share of GDP where more money leaves the country than comes in,” she said.
“Investment drives innovation, which drives productivity and drives higher wages.
“We cannot continue to have an underperforming skills system that is failing to prepare Australians for the huge changes in the tasks that make up their jobs as the world of work changes.”
The council proposed deepening trade ties with India and Southeast Asia, broad-based tax reform to incentivise investment and a commitment between federal, state and territory governments to decarbonise the economy by 2050.
It also proposed moving away from a “fragmented” education system and transforming it into a sector that encouraged lifelong learning and skills development to prepare workers for future jobs.
A 10-year road map for government and business should also be implemented to advance women’s economic inclusion, with progress reported annually.
“Pieced together (the reforms) would overhaul Australia’s competitiveness and productivity, increase our participation in big global markets and fundamentally drive stronger economic growth,” Ms Westacott said.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the report aligned with the government’s economic agenda.
“We need to make our economy more productive, not by making people work harder and longer for less, but by combining the things that we know will deliver productivity growth in the coming decades,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
“We don’t agree with every direction that the BCA has proposed.
“(But) if you look right across energy and housing, human capital, institutional reform, there is a great deal of alignment with the Albanese government’s agenda.”
The treasurer said prosperity and productivity required “a much more modern, dynamic and competitive economy”.
Dr Chalmers will this week release the latest Intergenerational Report, which is expected to show the nation’s population will age rapidly over the next 40 years, leading to a surge in demand for aged care and social assistance workers.
It will also show the nation experienced the slowest productivity growth in 60 years in the decade to 2020.