Big Issues survey results: Tax reform needed now, broaden GST base key results



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Results of the CEDA/Business Spectator 2013 Big Issues survey have revealed that the almost daily announcements by the Federal Government of reviews and inquiries should be replaced by leadership to enact the reforms needed.

In particular, taxation reform starting with broadening the GST should be the priority for the Federal Government in their first term followed by enhancing productivity, competitiveness and innovation through policy decisions.

More than 1250 people responded to the Big Issues annual survey, conducted at the start of this month. The survey aimed to capture a snapshot of the business community's views on the critical policy choices in the year ahead.

CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin said the survey indicated that more than 70 per cent of respondents agreed that tax reform is needed in the first term of government and not to be delayed by using the mandate excuse.

"In the first few months of the new Federal Government there has been an avalanche of new reviews announced. The previous government also conducted a number of significant reviews but little was implemented," Professor Martin said.

"Critically, it is most unlikely another review of the taxation system will unearth any new recommendations that have not been made previously."

Professor Martin said more than 50 per cent of respondents agree that taxation reform should be revenue enhancing, suggesting increasing concern about the rising deficit and 40 per cent agree reform should be revenue neutral.

"The priorities for taxation reform are broadening the GST base and reducing tax rates for low income workers to encourage more people to work," he said.

"Previous CEDA research has found that broadening the GST or increasing the rate (or both) should be a priority for the Federal Government to allow for the removal of inefficient taxes and these results show it is an area gaining support across the business community.

"To increase innovation, respondents' top responses were providing tax breaks for innovative practices and providing incentives to universities to work more closely with industry.

"These are key issues that have been on the CEDA agenda for some time and clearly the business community agree.

Interestingly, and as some comfort to the Government, more than 68 per cent of respondents said assistance for the automotive industry should be lowered or removed completely, with the majority falling into the latter category."

Other key results include:

Priorities for improving Australia's international competitiveness should be enhancing workforce capability through education and training and reducing red tape.

The biggest hindrance to delivery of adequate transport infrastructure is the lack of long-term planning and commitment by government, followed by the politicisation of the infrastructure process.

More than 87 per cent of respondents agree that there needs to be better clarity about which levels of government are responsible for services and if reform of the Federation is undertaken, reducing overlap and duplication between levels of government should be the number one priority, followed by reviewing how revenue is allocated to the states and territories.

Priorities for improving Australia's workforce capabilities should be developing a national overarching strategy for education, from early childhood through to tertiary education and a targeted strategy to align skills and training with long-term workforce needs, respectively.