The Australian Chamber is cognisant of the motives to ban large cash transactions. However, we would suggest that it is the wrong policy focus. Rather than restricting cash use, the Australian Chamber notes that black market activity is best reduced by lowering the tax and regulatory burden, and removing the barriers to business and economic activity more generally. That is, black market activity is best reduced by tackling the causes of that activity.
The Australian Chamber commends the government’s objective to take the lead in best practice for procurement of goods and services. It is important that businesses have confidence in the integrity of the regulatory systems that support commercial transactions, particularly when taxpayers’ money is used to fund these commercial transactions. However, caution is needed when determining the definition of a ‘satisfactory tax record’. For example, the Australian Chamber is particularly concerned, and cautions against, a taxpayer’s contested debt with the ATO being reflected negatively in their Statement of Tax Record. Government procurement contracts should not be used as a means to coerce payment (explicitly or implicitly), or discourage business from, contesting a tax debt with the ATO.
Australian Chamber members have consistently expressed concern that policy makers often do not implement policies that are in the long-term interests of our country. This heavily weighs on confidence, and therefore investment. Economic studies consistently show policy uncertainty negatively impacts business investment. If businesses are unsure what the future policy landscape looks like, their return projections will be uncertain too. This, in turn, will lower the investment a business makes. This is why policy leadership is so important in encouraging businesses to invest.
Regional Australia cannot be thought of as one homogenous area. Nor can regional Australia necessarily be thought of, or referred to, as a remote area. Characterising or stereotyping areas as such leads to incorrect analysis and poor policy outcomes. For instance many regional towns and cities are in very close proximity to the major state capital cities. The causes of regional inequality are complex and the Australian Chamber does not profess to capture them all in this submission. We would note however that inequality of opportunity in towns and cities outside of the major state capitals is likely a significant causal factor. This inequality of opportunity arises because policy makers and planners – who are predominately based in major state capitals – have not and do not provide the necessary social and economic infrastructure for regional towns and cities to grow at their potential and thrive.
The Australian Chamber considers that the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is working well and provides an appropriate balance between the needs of consumers and businesses. The Australian Chamber continues to believe significant changes should not be made to the ACL. The ACL should not be overly prescriptive or restrict mutually beneficial transactions between buyers and sellers. Overly prescriptive and onerous protections will result in increased costs for businesses. This will increase prices for consumers. The Australian Chamber supports the continuation of a principles based consumer guarantee framework to ensure it has the flexibility to adapt appropriately to transactions involving different goods and services.
There is no such thing as the “digital” economy. We need to recognise that there is only the economy in a digital world. Technological change is a constant but it is increasing and will be disruptive to traditional ways of doing things, including the global trade in goods and services.
Australia needs dynamic policy settings that recognise that the increasing availability of access to cloud based computing, high speed broadband, additive manufacturing (3D printing) and the internet of things will all challenge our previous thinking.
The Australian Chamber supports the role of government to ensure the health, welfare and security of the Australian community, recognising that there is an important role for the private sector in providing goods and services to this end, either via government or in its own right. The responsibility is not just to the current generation that a government represents, but also to future generations.
A critical element of the Chamber’s ‘Top 10 in 10 strategy’ (10 steps outlined at the 2016 election focusing on making Australia more competitive) was for policy makers to look over the horizon, past the election cycle and past a government’s current term.
With that in mind, the Chamber calls on government (current and future) and the community it represents, to always be conscious of its legacy. That is, we must be aware of whether we are leaving future generations in a better (or worse) position to face whatever uncertainties circumstances dictate.