Time to end reform paralysis

Despite some healthy scepticism, The National Reform Summit held last week fortunately didn’t lead to any ‘kumbaya’ moments. Instead, it usefully turned the spotlight on the need for government and all decision makers to stop the reform paralysis and focus much more on what they can do rather than what they can’t do.

It brought together representatives from business, unions and civil society groups who discussed the areas of productivity and workforce participation, taxation reform, fiscal reform and retirement incomes.

I spoke on the taxation panel, highlighting the need for an overhaul of Australia’s taxation system to ensure it positions our economy for growth, investment and jobs. In particular, we need to have an internationally competitive tax system for the 21st century to replace our 20th century tax system with its confusing layers of state and federal taxes.

While there were clearly varied opinions among those taking part in the summit, there was agreement that all options must be left on the table and that reform must be considered holistically, looking at both the tax and transfer system. We also agreed on the need for sound modelling to look at the consequences of any reform package.

In the final communique, we stressed to political parties that they should “approach tax reform based on our agreed principles in an open, inclusive and transparent way that does not rule out options for reasons of political expediency”.

Ai Group’s Director of Policy and Influence, Dr Peter Burn, spoke on the retirement incomes panel, which had a broad ranging discussion around the three pillars of retirement income: superannuation, the pension and private savings.

Read the full communique and the actions Ai Group has agreed upon.

Did you tune in to the National Reform Summit? What were the key messages for you, or what important issues do you think were neglected? Share your thoughts below.

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Ai Group Chief Executive since May 2012, Innes joined as Director International and Government Relations in 2008. Prior to this he held a number of senior roles in both the public and private sectors: Australian Consul General to Los Angeles (2006-08); Chief of Staff to Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer (2004-06); and Manager for Global Public Affairs, Singapore Airlines (2000-04). He began his career as a journalist, with his positions including Chief Political Correspondent and Chief of Staff at The Age.

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