The upcoming jobs and skills summit will be a key opportunity to reset the direction of the economy, the Business Council of Australia says.
In a major speech in Sydney on Wednesday night, the council’s chief executive Jennifer Westacott said a raft of measures would be needed in order to strengthen Australia post-COVID.
She said the upcoming summit would be a key starting point for large areas of reform within Australia.
“The jobs and skills summit is an opportunity to recapture the same consensus and determination that helped power the last 30 years of economic growth to make Australia a frontier nation,” Ms Westacott said in the address to the Australia Club.
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“For Australia, reaching the frontier will mean investing in the skills and capabilities of our people, attracting the investment needed to transform our economy and making the most of out competitive advantages.”
The jobs and skill summit, slated to take place over two days in September, will bring together more than 100 representatives from business, unions, government and civil society.
The summit was a key election commitment by the Albanese government, with some of the measures put forward also having the potential to be used in the October budget.
Ms Westacott said regional areas would have a critical role to play as part of the recovery, indicating a frontier economy would not be just about capital cities.
“We’ll need to pick places, identify their strengths and get behind them,” she said.
“To tap into new markets and make the most of our regions, we have to start identifying the places with the greatest potential for investment.”
The chief executive also used the speech to advocate for other ways to improve the country’s finances amid large levels of debt, rather than just implement more taxes.
“Punitive and incentive sapping taxes are not the answer to any of our revenue problems,” she said.
“We should aim to double company tax receipts not by increasing the tax burden but by unleashing new investment and expansion.”
Strengthening national security, focusing on boosting skills as well as securing the country’s economy and industrial base were also identified as areas by Ms Westacott to build a stronger nation.
“The greatest unfairness we could commit now is to be timid and reticent about seizing the moment, or to retreat to our old ideological corners,” she said.
“The government’s jobs and skills summit is a chance to reset Australia’s direction and put us at the front of the pack, but only if we grasp the opportunity.”