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Potential damage from IR changes loom large

WESTERN Australia has one of the strongest economies in the Western world.  Its citizens enjoy a high standard of living, low unemployment, a world-class education system, a pristine environment and cultural diversity.

Such prosperity has not come about by accident. While we are blessed with an abundance of natural resources, an enter-prising population and a stable political system – it has been the business sector that has driven economic growth in the State.

Our economic development depends on a robust business sector. The role of government should be to actively promote sustainable economic development through broad policy settings that allow business to grow with minimal interference.

Government policy should not favour one particular sector at the expense of others, but rather create an environment that allows all businesses to flourish. Government policy should encompass such areas as sound fiscal management, ongoing microeconomic reform, provision of infrastructure, a well-educated workforce and promotion of competition and the efficient delivery of services. All this should be undertaken within a framework that ensures sustainable development of our resources.

Labor has failed to provide the policies that enable business to flourish. Revenue has risen but standards have fallen.

The Labor Government has turned back the clock on industrial relations and introduced laws that have reduced workplace flexibility and tilted the scale strongly in favour of a militant union movement. Right-of-entry provisions in this legislation give union officials virtually unfettered access to work-places to examine employee records, identify non-members and to call meetings of members in employers’ time. The new laws give union officials and their representatives an unjustified position of privilege to the detriment of employers and workers.

The Government’s management of fiscal policy has seen State debt skyrocket. Debt rose by almost $1 billion in Labor’s first year and will top $6.3 billion by 2004-05.  The Coalition had reduced State debt to $4.3 billion by 2000-01 after the disasters of the WA Inc years.

Despite the now infamous promise, taxes and charges are up. Since being elected, Labor has introduced almost $1 billion in new taxes and charges. Payroll tax also is up, with the payroll tax base been broadened to include “employee-like contractors”. Stamp duties and land tax have increased. Water, sewerage and drainage rates are up. WA’s taxation system is now impeding investment and growth. 

Industrial development on the Burrup has been put in jeopardy because the Government refuses to develop Maitland Estate. Infrastructure provided by Government, such as rail, roads and ports should not be project specific, but rather should be of benefit to all industry. The development of Maitland, to the south of Hearson Cove, would be a long-term approach to encourage investment and development in WA into the future.

Efficiency in other areas is also lagging. The Government refuses to embrace contracting out, where clear savings can be made. Rather than working with the private sector, the Labor Government is often in conflict with it. A prime example of this is in the health services area.

The Liberal Party has worked hard during the past two years to re-establish itself as a viable alternative government. We have spent considerable time listening to business, listening to community groups and listening to the people of WA.

I can assure the readers of WA Business News that our policies will be unashamedly pro-business. We intend to wind back Labor’s draconian industrial relations laws, tackle taxation reform and address the run-down of our State’s infrastructure.

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