Red tape strangles regions

REGULATIONS and tax compliance are strangling the development of regional areas and costing Australia millions of dollars of potential industry investment, according to two leading business groups.

The newly formed WA business association the Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Australian Gas Association separately called on the governments to remove excessive burdens on regional Australia which discouraged investment outside the cities.

At Friday’s launch of the RCCWA, vice-president Michael Pemberton called on the Federal Government to simplify the GST to minimise the cost to rural and remote businesses both in time and stress.

“The Federal Government promised to simplify our taxation system,” Mr Pemberton said.

“The reality is very simple – businesses bear the cost of collecting tax. Our regional businesses are already contributing more than their fair share.

“The RCCWA wants real incentives to industry to relocate from metropolitan areas to the region. These incentives must be geared to deliver ‘whole of business needs’ from education through to training and logistics.”

Earlier last week, the Australian Gas Association made similar calls.

AGA chairman and AlintaGas chief Phil Harvey said regulation was stifling development in the gas industry which wanted to expand its regional presence.

“A number of major gas distribution and transmission projects in regional Australia currently hang in the balance, particularly due to uncertainty over the regulatory treatment of new infrastructure and uncertainty over the tax depreciation rates allowable on gas pipelines,” he said.

Mr Harvey believes the Govern-ment must reconsider its approach of driving down returns for natural gas infrastructure asset owners.

“At the end of the day, if a new gas pipeline or network is not developed – and a regional area misses out on new industry development, more jobs and a wider choice of energy supply – it would be hard to argue that the current approach to natural gas industry regulation and taxation has been a success,” he said.

Mr Pemberton agreed it was time the Government did something to help regional development.

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