Change of the guard a boost to confidence
With polls pointing to a Coalition victory, Weekend Business looks at what to expect from the new government.
A decisive win for the Coalition could provide the much-touted boost to business confidence, something business leaders have been talking about for months.
And economists say such a boost is likely, given the "distaste among business for the present government", as the Bank of America Merrill Lynch chief economist Saul Eslake puts it.
On taxation, the Coalition says it will commission a broad-ranging review of the tax system, including the goods and services tax.
It has promised to abolish the Labor government's controversial minerals resources rent tax and its carbon pricing mechanism, but the Senate could get in the way.
Coalition leader Tony Abbott says he will not go ahead with the Rudd government's proposed changes to the fringe benefits tax. He has been careful not to propose any substantial changes to Labor's workplace relations regime.
Mr Eslake says the internal tussles the Coalition might have over economic policy will be one issue to watch.
"We think there could be tensions between authentic economic liberals (including the principal economic ministers) and those of a more interventionist inclination, including Tony Abbott as prime minister, and the rural-based National Party," Mr Eslake said.
A consequence of this tension could mean a Coalition government that is less welcoming of foreign investment in agriculture, and of foreign investment proposals from Chinese state-owned enterprises.
Mr Abbott has recently said it is rarely in Australia's national interest to allow an existing business to be taken over by a foreign state-owned enterprise.
During the Coalition's first term, assuming it lasts three years, the governor of the Reserve Bank and the chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority will both step down.
John Laker, the APRA chairman, will step aside on July 1 next year, while Glenn Stevens, the Reserve Bank governor, will go on September 17, 2016.
A Coalition win would generate short-term relief at car yards around the country, but could spell longer-term uncertainty for local vehicle manufacturing.
The car industry would be $1 billion worse off in direct funding under a Coalition government, but benefit from operating conditions not offered by Labor.
The Coalition has vowed to order a full review of car industry funding by the productivity commission. It has also promised to overturn the controversial changes to the fringe benefits tax, scrap the mining and carbon taxes and make cuts to so-called red and green tape by up to $1 billion a year.
An insider from one of Australia's two remaining vehicle manufacturers, Holden and Toyota, described the impending Liberal policies as "a mix of good outcomes and plenty of unknowns".
"There are a lot of unknowns - we don't have the funding details from either party to say one is better than the other," the source said.
Holden will make a decision before December on its long-term placing in Australia beyond 2016, while Toyota Australia is not willing to put a timeline on its future beyond the next three years.
The Coalition's auto policy has a strong emphasis on outcome-based funding and a renewed focus on exports.
A Coalition government would not match Labor's $500 million worth of new funding until the end of the decade, and would make cuts to funding already allocated for the same period by $500 million.
Banks, wealth managers and insurers face the first comprehensive review of the financial system in more than 15 years under a change of government.
In a key point of difference between Labor and the Coalition, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has pledged to conduct a "root and branch" inquiry into how Australia's financial system may need to evolve in future. Dubbed "Son of Wallis" in reference to the 1997 inquiry led by businessman Stan Wallis, this is being pitched as a response to the tectonic shifts in the global economy in recent years.
The inquiry would be likely to put all manner of issues under the microscope, including regulation, competition, taxation, and the $1.6 billion superannuation pool.
Hockey's plan has broad support from the finance industry - the powerful banking and superannuation lobbies see it as a chance to push for long-desired changes.
The Coalition will keep Labor's planned $500 million-a-year deposit levy, another significant change facing the sector.
A commitment to scrapping the carbon price may be clear-cut but the Coalition has offered little else when it comes to energy policy and action on climate change.
The precise details of the direct action plan to pay polluters to cut emissions and meet the bipartisan target of reducing greenhouse gas output by 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020 will not be known until at least 100 days after the new government is formed and the public consultation ends.
The Coalition's policy on resources and energy, released on Thursday in the shadow of the wider budget costings announcements, left industry - particularly in clean technology - in the dark.
The policy made no reference at all to the Renewable Energy Target, which is the central driver for large-scale wind and other renewable energy investments.
Climate spokesman Greg Hunt said the Coalition's policy is to review the renewable energy target next year.
The Coalition's 10-page energy policy issued before the election omitted any reference to carbon emissions other than a line about how cleaner liquefied natural gas might be used as an alternative to diesel for interstate trucking.
For the wind industry, there was a pledge to "resolve community concerns over wind farms", including establishing "real-time monitoring of wind farm noise emissions".
Removal of the carbon and mining taxes will please the mining industry, but there's a less well-known policy that really has the industry excited about a Tony Abbott-led government.
The Coalition has promised to introduce a new tax deduction scheme linked to mineral exploration called the exploration development incentive.
The policy, which is similar to a scheme that exists in Canada, would allow investors to claim a tax credit for investing money into companies conducting the exploration.
To ensure the system is not rorted, the policy would only allow the deduction to be claimed when the company spends money on exploration, and the impost on Treasury would be capped at $100 million over three years.
The big winners out of the policy would be the small end of the mining sector, which has been worst hit by the slowdown in the industry and the tighter credit environment.
Investors won't have to wait long for the incentive, with the scheme set to begin on July 1 next year.
Removal of the mining tax would be more of a moral victory for the miners than provide any tangible improvement to their financial bottom lines.
At this stage it appears only BHP Billiton paid mining tax in the first year of its operation, with the "global Australian" chipping in just $200 million.
For Labor's showpiece National Broadband Network, the rollout would continue as planned for the first few months, or at least until the new government finishes four proposed reviews into locations, priorities, technology and the NBN Co.
The Coalition plans to issue a new statement of expectations to NBN Co limiting its government funding to $29.5 billion and asking it to consider using alternative technologies other than fibre optic cable all the way to 93 per cent of premises.
It wants the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to provide within 90 days a list of broadband "quality and availability" across the nation. This list would be given to NBN Co to "amend its rollout plan with effect from the soonest commercially feasible date" to reprioritise broadband-deficient areas. The satellite and wireless rollouts would remain untouched, because the Coalition believes it has "limited or minimal scope to vary these commitments".
Simultaneously, the Coalition wants to conduct a strategic review of NBN Co, an independent audit of NBN Co's governance and a cost-benefit analysis.
The NBN Co business review would be due within two months and the cost-benefit analysis within six months. No timeframe has been specified for the governance and policy review. Long-term changes to the NBN rollout depend on the outcome of these reviews.
PAID PARENTAL LEAVE
It's been criticised as intergenerational theft, and an expensive way for Tony Abbott to woo once-wary women voters.
But unless the Coalition manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the $5.5-billion-a-year paid parental leave scheme is on its way.
And the small business lobby couldn't be happier.
"What's tended to happen is that small business has lost employees to big business or the government due to their paid parental leave," Peter Strong, the head of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told Fairfax Media.
"This levels the playing field."
And small and medium-sized businesses employ the bulk of Australian workers.
Meanwhile, big companies have generally been loath to publicly criticise the Coalition's scheme, despite it being partly funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on companies with a taxable income of more than $5 million a year.
Some, such as ANZ and NIB, have said they will review their own schemes if the Coalition's program gets up as promised in 2015.
But Professor Ian Williamson, of the Melbourne Business School, has said the Coalition's policy might lead to some organisations offering three or six months' paid leave in addition to the government-funded component.
"There's going to be a whole lot of organisations that won't have expertise in developing alternative work arrangements.
"For them, this change would highlight a deficiency in their system in managing a diverse workforce," Professor Williamson said.