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Business Council head urges SMEs to invest and innovate

Wednesday, 17 April 2013 | By Yolanda Redrup

Above: Tony Shepherd.


The Business Council of Australia has today urged small businesses to start investing in new plans and people in order to ensure the future prosperity of the country.


In a speech delivered by BCA president Tony Shepherd (pictured above) to the National Press Club, the organisation said it will urge politicians to think about the future and change the nation's planning, as the organisation attempts to influence both parties' election campaigns.


The BCA's long-term plan for reform calls for fewer taxes, less red tape and a greater encouragement of innovation and foreign trade.


All sectors of Australia should contribute to the growth of Australia, with community and non-government sectors helping to build "social capacity and social cohesion", but Shepherd emphasised the role of government and business.


"Governments should facilitate well-managed growth and prosperity with sensible regulation, quality infrastructure and services, and through a social safety net.


"We need businesses, large and small – and individuals – to be investing and innovating. We need them to be creating the jobs, the assets, the tax base, the infrastructure, and the connections across the globe that make us a wealthy nation," he says.


Shepherd also said part of the "action plan" will provide more support for SMEs, in the lobbying for deregulation of involvement in major projects.


The speech provided a preliminary look at nine key aspects of the plan including tax, regulation and infrastructure planning.


Shepherd addressed senior business representatives from organisations including the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia.


Shepherd cautioned the government and said the greatest risk to the country is the possibility of winding back "hard won reforms".


"These things will go a long way in determining the choices Australians will have over the next 20 years," he said.


"We want to show there is another way: by presenting a vision and a plan that looks well beyond the next six months to the next decade and the decade beyond."


Shepherd sets goals for the future, including Australia being in the top five countries in the world in terms of income per capita, but says the current preparation for the future is "somewhere between half-hearted and non-existent".


Weaknesses of Australia's current economic position included labour productivity, high costs, challenged competitiveness, flat confidence and a weakening fiscal position.


But Shepherd said the BCA's action plan will call for a number of changes to prepare for Australia's future including rebuilding the tax system to reduce the number of taxes and rebalance the mix, and create a population strategy which "lays the groundwork" for necessary infrastructure development.


This story first appeared on SmartCompany.