Industry urges Abbott to put pedal to the metal on reform
Big business groups have welcomed the federal Coalition's election victory, saying incoming prime minister Tony Abbott has won a "clear mandate for reform" that he must be allowed to fulfil.
But the Business Council of Australia, the country's most powerful business group, has also fired a warning shot at the new-look senate, saying senators have a "responsibility" to act in the long-term national interest, which is code for saying the Coalition must not face much resistance there.
"It's time to stop the politicking. We now have a majority government in place for three years," Business Council president Tony Shepherd warned.
"Business is looking for urgent action to unwind policies that have hurt our competitiveness and to begin the long process of structural reform and planning that will position our economy for the future."
Near the top of the reform wish list is the Business Council's economic "action plan," which was released in July and lays out a possible "blueprint" for "comprehensive policy reform".
The plan calls for budget discipline, a reduced corporate tax rate and a rethink of regulation.
Rio Tinto managing director David Peever, who is chairman of the BCA's policy committee, on Sunday said the plan would provide a "sensible starting point".
"We need leadership focused on the long-term national interest, supported by strong governance and institutions and proper decision-making processes," Mr Peever said.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors reiterated its call for the new government to hold a "regulation summit" in its first 100 days of office.
"The new government should move decisively in its first term to reduce unnecessary regulation and red tape, which is strangling business and stifling investment and job creation," institute chief executive John Colvin said.
Business groups across the political spectrum, from the union-linked Industry Super Network to the Australian Bankers' Association, congratulated the new government on its win, and took the opportunity to reiterate their pre-election policy platforms.
But they also said what they would like to see the Abbott government working on immediately.
Financial Services Council chief executive John Brogden said he would like to see a comprehensive review of the country's financial system, which is something the likely incoming treasurer Joe Hockey has been keen to pursue.
He also said he would support the review being chaired by David Murray, the former Commonwealth Bank chief executive.
Mr Murray last month said he would consider chairing a review of the financial system if asked.
"We think that superannuation will play a very important role in that," Mr Brogden said.
"There was also talk of a tax review ... we've always been strong advocates of abolishing the remaining unproductive state taxes."
Council of Small Business chief executive Peter Strong said the Coalition had a mandate to do what it said it would do in the small business area.
He also said he rang the current opposition spokesman for small business, Bruce Billson, on Sunday morning to congratulate him on the win.
"We want them to move pretty quickly on competition policy and contract [reform] ... to really send a message to small business people to say we're thinking of you," Mr Strong said.
"I'm pretty sure there'll be a boost to confidence and certainty in the small business sector now, but we don't want them to be disappointed in six months' time."
Industry Super Network chief executive David Whitely said the superannuation industry was after a period of relative stability following years of inquiries and changes, including the Future of Financial Advice legislation and My Super reforms.
"There's been a significant amount of change over the last few years and I think they need the change to bed them down," Mr Whitely said.
"We would also hope that a new government offers the opportunity for bipartisanship on super and I think if there's going to regulatory or tax changes then they follow a considered, thoughtful process with consultation with the industry and community at large."
The Insurance Council of Australia said the new government ought to place a "greater emphasis on disaster management and mitigation". It also said tax reforms that reduced state and territory government reliance on stamp duties on insurance products would be welcomed.
"The insurance industry is encouraged by the Coalition's belief that excessive regulation stymies innovation, investment and more employment," Insurance Council chief executive Rob Whelan said.