Chamber denies agency ‘hit list’

04/03/2009 - 22:00

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THE Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA has denied its pre-budget submission to the state government includes a hit list of agencies it wants split or privatised.

Chamber denies agency ‘hit list’

THE Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA has denied its pre-budget submission to the state government includes a hit list of agencies it wants split or privatised.

Last week, CCIWA named the Small Business Development Corporation, LandCorp and Western Australia's eight port authorities as prime candidates for privatisation or review.

Speaking to WA Business News, a CCIWA spokesperson denied the chamber was attempting to boost membership, saying the pre-budget submission simply outlined government bodies that should be scrutinised because they might no longer be needed or could operate more efficiently.

"Such reforms could significantly improve the state's budget position and allow government to focus its attention and funding on its core areas of service delivery," the spokesperson said. "CCI's pre-budget submission sets out a lasting public sector reform agenda that will be good for Western Australia and taxpayers, not individual organisations."

CCIWA's submission names, among others, the Chicken Meat Industry Committee, Potato Marketing Corporation, Public Transport Authority, Disability Services Commission, Lotteries Commission, and the Coal Miners' Welfare Board of WA as possible contenders to be either reviewed, amalgamated, abolished or contracted out and privatised.

The chamber has welcomed the Barnett government's 3 per cent efficiency dividend across the public sector, but agreed with small business peak bodies that the target should not adversely affect the level or delivery of services.

"Smaller agencies and those which deliver non-essential services should not be adversely affected, given that their funding and accordingly expenditure levels have grown strongly in recent times," the CCIWA submission said.

"In addition, the 3 per cent savings target is proportional, and as such will not disadvantage agencies based upon their size or function."

However, SBDC managing director Stephen Moir claimed CCIWA's report was a self-generated overview of the chamber's wish list for the state.

"I was not overly surprised by the content of the CCIWA report, because it is in keeping with the chamber's philosophy of private enterprise domination in the community and its dislike of government agencies existing in areas that the chamber would prefer to see run by private individuals or organisations," Mr Moir said.

"Unfortunately, the CCIWA report is factually incorrect in saying that our role in providing business advisory services and migration services is also covered by other government and non-government organisations.

"No other organisation in Western Australia has the same level of expertise, nor provides the same high level of specialised small business information and advice at no cost to the small business operator."

Mr Moir said the SBDC had assisted SMEs for more than 25 years while maintaining competitive neutrality by providing most services free of charge.

The Combined Small Business Alliance of WA (CoSBA) accused CCIWA of thwarting the federal government's initiatives to assist small business in a difficult economic era.

"(CCIWA's) submission ... demonstrates that it does not represent the interests of small business [and] suggests it does not understand the special needs of small business," CoSBA chief executive Oliver Moon said.

Opposition spokesperson for small business, Ljiljanna Ravlich, called on Small Business Minister Troy Buswell to guarantee that the SBDC would not be absorbed or privatised by other agencies.

Mr Buswell did not respond before WA Business News went to press.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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