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Business groups fear policy paralysis following election announcement

Thursday, 31 January 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Yesterday’s announcement of the 2013 federal election date garnered a largely positive response from business groups, but there are now concerns about “policy paralysis” within government.

 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard shocked the nation yesterday when she confirmed this year’s federal election will be held on September 14.

 

Small business lobbyist Peter Strong applauded the unusual move, telling StartupSmart it is “good to know” the election date, while the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also welcomed the announcement.

 

But there are now concerns the government will enter a state of policy paralysis as it steps into election mode.

 

“Australia now faces an eight-month election campaign,” Innes Willox, chief executive of Australian Industry Group, said in a statement.

 

“Business will now be looking to both parties to provide the community with a clear vision of their policies well ahead of the election.”

 

AIG will be looking for election policies that address a range of issues including the high Australian dollar, national regulatory harmonisation, and the reduction of red and green tape.

 

Similarly, Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, has wasted no time outlining a number of reforms the ARA would like to see implemented.

 

“The question on everyone’s lips has been answered, but over the next 227 days the question from retailers will be: What’s in it for business?” Zimmerman said in a statement.

 

Zimmerman said there are still uncertainties in the remaining life of the Parliament, which is concerning.

 

“With continued support for the government, its legislation and leadership is hanging on an unstable alliance of Greens, independents and disenfranchised former major political party members,” he said.

 

“The ARA holds deep concerns that without the economic certainty a strong majority government would bring, there will continue to be a lack of stability.

 

“All legislation will continue to be compromised to meet the conflicting ideologies of multiple political interests without a majority government.”

 

The ARA is calling on both parties to outline policies in relation to tax reform, investment in logistics and infrastructure, investment in vocational education and training, and returning the budget to surplus.

 

The Labor Party has 27 marginal seats across Australia, including 10 in NSW and seven in Queensland.

 

For the Coalition to win the election, it has to retain 29 marginal seats, including 10 in Queensland and seven in NSW.

 

Appearing on the Today Show, Gillard insisted “this is not day one of the election campaign”.

 

“I made it perfectly clear yesterday what I wanted to do was cut out all of the silly nonsense that goes with election date speculation… and also give enough notice so everyone contesting the election can put all of their details and properly costed plans before election day.”

 

Gillard said her priorities include strengthening the economy, boosting employment, improving education, and starting the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

 

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also appeared on the Today Show, identifying the economy, people smugglers and the carbon tax as key issues for the Coalition.

 

He said he would disband the carbon tax and its compensation scheme if he became Prime Minister, and would put income tax cuts in place.