The results of CEDA and Business Spectator's 2012 Big Issues survey have revealed that ensuring Australia is positioned to take advantage from the rise of Asia and the need for continued productivity improvement are the big issues confronting business, with significant implications for the Government's agenda.
CEDA, Chief Executive, Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin said the survey, completed by more than 3000 people, provided some interesting results, with productivity again a key issue but previously hot issues, such as industrial relations falling off the radar.
"Enhancing productivity, improving Australia's competitiveness and encouraging innovation were ranked as the top three priorities for the Federal Government," he said.
"These factors, along with timely infrastructure delivery were seen as the keys to adjusting to world conditions in 2025."
Surprisingly some of the areas to rate the lowest in helping Australia adjust were the availability of skilled labour, industrial relations reform and the tax regime, all of which have received significant discussion in the media but appear from this survey to not be as big a concern to the business community.
"Very clearly respondents see productivity as critical and the keys to improving productivity are innovation and infrastructure delivery," Professor Martin said.
"In addition, it would also seem that much of the heat has gone out of the climate change debate following the introduction of the carbon tax with climate change dropping well down the list of influences on the Australian economy to 2025 and ranked last as a priority for the Federal Government after the election next year."
Professor Martin said more than 70 per cent of people surveyed agreed that the Asian Century would sustain the Australian economy to 2025 and that the Federal Government's Australia in the Asian Century White Paper was either important or critical to achieving our economic objectives in the Asia Pacific region.
A further issue explored in the Survey was related to the importance of the Federal Government having a Budget surplus, with the majority of respondents neutral on its importance and the remainder almost evenly split between agreeing or disagreeing with its importance.
"This would seem to indicate that for the Australian business community, the importance of Governments delivering budget surpluses is a political issue, not an economic one," he said.
The Big Issues survey aims to capture a snapshot of the business community's views on the critical policy choices ahead. More than 3000 people completed the survey this year which was conducted in November.