The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on businesses to follow up on the Prime Minister’s Economic Forum with three practical measures to start a new round of productivity reforms.
ACCI director of economics and industry policy, Greg Evans, attended the forum and told SmartCompany the message coming out of the forum was that we can and must do much more to make our economy more productive and globally competitive.
ACCI says specific measures must be taken by business and government over the coming months if the forum is to live up to the aspiration of its participants.
The industry body says it no good talking about solutions unless there is follow up and implementation and suggests three steps business should take over the next month.
1. Review work practices
Firstly, Evans says businesses should review work practices and start a discussion with employees or unions on steps to eliminate inefficient work practices.
“We do have a productivity challenge, and most businesses would already do this, but if there are any inefficiencies that can be removed then that is something that should be happening,” he says.
2. Strategy for Asia
Evans says businesses should start, if they have not already, developing a strategy on how their business can better link into Asian growth markets.
“One of the key issues is that we have expanding and growing markets to the north and world economic growth is increasingly in the Asian region and Australian companies need to be aware of that and look for opportunities in that marketplace,” says Evans.
“There is a big shift in economic growth to Asia, and Australia is well placed to secure many of those markets.
“Businesses need to look at opportunities if they are producing goods or services to the extent that they may have markets in Asia, and business also needs to be conscious that there are changes in the types of goods and services that Asia is demanding.”
3. Increase workforce skills and participation
Finally, Evans says businesses should identify how they might be able to increase workforce skills or participation rates.
“There are skilled workers in the marketplace in different areas such as mature workers and workers with disabilities that can make a significant contribution and they are left out of the workforce at the moment to some extent,” he says.
ACCI has also called on the government to make three practical changes as well.
It wants government to undertake to deliver a “meaningful” company tax cut in the next budget from expenditure savings, to amend industrial relations laws to prevent unions restricting the right of business to restructure, outsource or engage self-employed contractors and to announce measures to support export finance provision to small and medium businesses.
Evans says while ACCI appreciated the opportunity to participate in the forum, some key policy issues such as industrial relations reform, tax reform or the negative impact of the carbon tax were not discussed.