Increased workforce participation, better skills and less red tape across the levels of government are the key elements of the business vision articulated by the 2020 Summit over the weekend.
The suggestions that have emerged from the Summit range from the very big picture – for example, a complete review and revamp of the tax system – to the very basic, such as a scheme to tap into the skills of retirees by having them as workplace mentors.
But the need for higher productivity and more efficient regulation were common themes to emerge from the two key business focused groups of the Summit, one dealing with the productivity agenda and the other with the future of the economy.
Summit participant Tony Park, the owner of a small manufacturing business in Tasmania and director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says while many good ideas came out of the weekend, it was difficult to make the small business perspective heard.
“The small business perspective wasn’t really heard, there were just so many people and ideas and such limited time it was very difficult to have a distinctive opinion for the sector put forward,” Park says.
He says there were several good ideas that could be of benefit to small business, such as an idea to allow employers to hire workers from Pacific nations to ease the skills shortage.
But the real test of success will be to see if the ideas that came out of the Summit are made into realistic, affordable and implementable policy measures, Park says.
Here is a selection of business-oriented ideas to emerge from the Summit:
- A complete review of state and federal taxation systems, with a particular focus on inefficient state taxes such as payroll tax and cutting taxes overall.
- Scholarships to encourage study in skills shortage areas.
- A national survey of Australian workplaces to measure worker contentment to create more transparent competition among employers for the best staff.
- The creation of a seamless national system of regulation across the states and reform of federal state relations.
- Establish a national institute for innovation and creativity.
- Allow the free movement of labour into Australia from the Pacific region.
- Improve collaboration and connections between business and Government, and business and the education system.
- Create a “golden gurus” scheme under which experienced older people would return to the workplace as mentors.
- Create a simplified national regime for third party access to infrastructure.
- Extension of FEE-HELP and FEE-HECS schemes to all forms of higher and vocational education.