The annual survey aims to capture a snapshot of the business community’s views on the big issues for the year ahead. In addition to energy policy, this year’s survey covered inequality, housing affordability and tax reform.
In releasing the results, CEDA Chief Executive, Melinda Cilento said the responses on energy policy reflect the uncertainty in this space.
“Energy security and cost has been a big issue on the national agenda this year and is likely to continue in 2018.
The degree of policy change and uncertainty over recent years is reflected in the survey results,” she said.
“Respondents ranked delivering secure reliable energy as the most important priority, over cost for households and business and environmental factors.”
However, Ms Cilento said questions about how government should respond to energy policy had divided respondents. The two highest ranking responses were to introduce a Clean Energy Target, followed by reform of the retail energy sector.
“The third highest response was for government to do nothing and allow the market to find the best response,” she said.
“Housing affordability remains a key issue for respondents, with 80 per cent saying it was very or somewhat important for government to address this issue.
“The top ranked responses for addressing housing affordability were reviewing property taxation such as stamp duty and land tax, along with improving transport planning and infrastructure for outer suburban areas.
“CEDA’s report Housing Australia released in August of this year included similar recommendations.
“Removing or reducing negative gearing was the most common theme in comments provided by survey respondents.
“Inequality will be a key research theme for CEDA in 2018 with a focus on understanding recent trends and developments, and the implications of future trends including technological change on the likely distribution of income and wealth and access to opportunities through education and employment.
“We have seen growing concern about this issue in Australia and overseas, and the survey reflects this.
“Almost 80 per cent of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that inequality is an issue in Australia and the issues that needed to be addressed were wealth inequality and indigenous inequality.
“The highest ranked policy solutions were targeting benefits more effectively and targeted retraining.”
Training and skills ranked highly in two other sections of the survey as well, Ms Cilento said.
“On how best to respond to disruption and the fourth industrial revolution, ensuring the education and training system equips workers with relevant and current skills ranked the highest,” she said.
“Enhancing our workforce capability through education and training was the highest ranked response on how to improve Australia’s international competitiveness, followed by incentivising innovation and R&D.
Tax and economic reform
“Once again the top priorities reported by survey respondents for tax reform were broadening the base of the GST and raising the rate of GST.
“Top responses on the aim of any tax reform were addressing tax evasion, encouraging greater workforce participation, improving the competitiveness of Australia for business investment, and redistribution of income/improving equity.
“On the top policy priorities for government in 2018, addressing a slow growth economy and encouraging innovation remained the top priorities for government, with addressing climate change also receiving a high ranking.”
The annual CEDA Big Issues survey consisted of 14 questions this year and is designed to give a snapshot of the business community’s views heading into the new year. The survey is open for two weeks from mid-November. This year 540 people completed the survey.
Read general comments from the Big Issues survey
Read comments about inequality from the Big Issues survey
Read comments about housing from the Big Issues Survey
Download the Big Issues graphs