24/01/2020 - 14:33

CCI calls for reform as Wyatt touts growth

24/01/2020 - 14:33

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Treasurer Ben Wyatt says the latest data from Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA showed positive signs for the Western Australian economy, despite CCIWA arguing for reforms to boost business and housing investment.

CCI calls for reform as Wyatt touts growth
Ben Wyatt says CCIWA's latest economy data was in line with the minister's forecasts.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt says the latest data from Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA showed positive signs for the Western Australian economy, despite CCIWA arguing for reforms to boost business and housing investment.

CCIWA chief economist Aaron Morey said in the chamber’s quarterly outlook the state had subdued economic activity and limited employment opportunities for Western Australians.

The announcement comes as the Australian Bureau of Statistics disclosed its latest employment figures, revealing a drop in the number of Western Australians working full-time by 5,300 people, despite the state’s jobless rate increasing 0.3 percentage points to 5.4 per cent.

Mr Morey said weak business investment had reduced employment opportunities in the state, with household incomes at eight-year lows.

“Completing the vicious cycle, weak consumer demand and growth prospects have weighed on business confidence,” he said.

“The upshot is the domestic economy is now 15 per cent smaller than it was seven years ago.”

CCIWA has forecast flat growth in household consumption, up 0.2 percentage points to 1.2 per cent for the 2020 financial year, citing falling business and housing investment had affected overall growth.

It has forecast housing investment to continue to fall, dropping 2.4 percentage points to 6 per cent for FY20, but is predicting growth in FY21 as population growth gradually picks up.

CCIWA has called on the government to commit to reforms that could support economic growth, such as improving the state’s shopping restrictions, accelerating the Streamline WA government initiative and increasing the number of occupations on the WA Skilled Migration List.

“With the state’s finances at a more sustainable position and recent cuts to payroll tax, Western Australia has a strong platform on which to build and reap the benefits of further reform,” Mr Morey added.

Mr Wyatt responded to the outlook by saying WA was set to benefit from its strongest economic growth in six years, the strongest business investment growth in seven years and the lowest unemployment rate in five years.

“The data is very encouraging and confirms what I’ve been seeing as treasurer through the broader raft of economic data,” he said.

Mr Wyatt said CCIWA’s unemployment forecast of 5.8 per cent was in line with the treasury’s forecast, and that employment was growing across a range of sectors, including mining, professional services and transport.

"The fact is the economy is now growing, not shrinking,” he said.

"Talking down our local economy, and ignoring some of the obvious green shoots will only weigh down confidence unnecessarily, and postpone WA's return to robust economic growth."

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