Prime Minister Tony Abbott has signalled the government will pursue an ambitious reform agenda at the next election and says business will be a central focus.
Giving the keynote address at the Joint Economic and Social Outlook Conference in Melbourne last night, Abbott warned “the age of reform has not ended in Australia”.
“We will be taking significant new policy to the next election,” Abbott said.
The Prime Minister claimed over the 10 months the Coalition has been in power it has been “a reforming government” and vowed to continue this approach.
“Business as usual is not an option for a country that’s living beyond its means,” Abbott said.
“Profitable private businesses are at the heart of the strong economy needed for a strong and stable society.”
Abbott told the conference economic growth is not given; it is earned by continual decisions to stay competitive.
The Prime Minister pointed to key reforms being pursued by the government including the National Broadband Network, the proposed free trade agreement with China, a white paper on tax reform and a Productivity Commission report on how workplace changes might improve productivity.
He also emphasized the importance of investment in infrastructure.
“Little boosts confidence more than seeing cranes in the sky and bulldozers on the ground – because it shows that investors have faith in the future,” Abbott said.
The Prime Minister cited figures from the Australian Industry Group which show almost 70% of businesses are frustrated with Australia’s infrastructure.
But he acknowledged Australia will need foreign investment to achieve the government’s infrastructure goals.
Foreign investment is, Abbott said, “a very emotional business”.
“We think foreign investment is necessary but it has to be the right foreign investment, not the wrong foreign investment,” he told the conference.
“Provided the numbers stack up, we should back big plans for our nation,” Abbott said.
“We are not a mean or petty people and we will not be a mediocre nation.”