Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s plan to deregulate the economy

Tony Abbott 20110829

Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott speaks at a CEDA luncheon at Hilton on the Park in Melbourne. Picture: Aaron Francis
Source: The Daily Telegraph

INDIVIDUALS and groups will be liberated from “unnecessary rules or second guessing bureaucrats” under a Coalition government, Tony Abbott pledged today.

The Opposition Leader outlined a far-reaching plan for deregulating the economy – from schools to workplaces – in his most substantial economic speech this year.

A freed-up market economy was “by far the best mechanism for creating wealth,” he told the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne.

A Coalition government would negotiate with states to encourage community-based public hospitals and independent public schools.

He said “autonomous management” of public facilities should lead to “more value from each taxpayer dollar”.
“To the Coalition, productivity enhancement mostly comes from liberating individuals and institutions from the stifling grip of unnecessary rules or second-guessing bureaucracies,” he said.

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Mr Abbott did not mention any specifics on workplace laws but indicated generally they would also be deregulated.

“The job of policy makers is not to buck the market but to try to ensure that individuals, communities and industries can cope with change,” he said in arguing for greater flexibility in regulation during the boom.
“Particularly by defeating union militancy, previous governments made it possible for Australia to make the most of the opportunities provided by the China boom.”

But “union militancy” was not an issue according to Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union who was in Canberra to lobby for Government action on the decline in manufacturing.

“Since 2007 there hasn’t been a single day lost in the steel industry through industrial action, unlike during the period of WorkChoices and the 1996 Industrial Relations Act when we had widespread industrial disputation and unrest in the Australian steel industry,” he said.

And voters made clear they thought cuts to interest rates and taxes were important action on the economy, according to an Essential Media poll released today .

The poll found that when given five options, 79 per cent of voters approved cuts in interest rates, 61 per cent approved both individual and personal tax cuts, and the Government’s plan to cut tax on low income earners and protect them from cost rises caused by carbon pollution pricing.

The poll also found 58 per cent of voters approved the Government’s proposal for a tax on big mining profits to invest in public facilities, 51 per cent said there should be tax cuts for low income earners with no offsets for carbon pricing, and 39 per cent wanted tax cuts and cuts in public works.

Tony Abbott rejected the “carbon tax” – “The Coalition says no to a carbon tax because we say yes to manufacturing industry and yes to affordable power and transport” – but pledged to reduce the cost of government.
“Our commitment to reduce the compliance cost of government red tape will boost productivity because enterprises will spend more time doing their job and less time form-filling,” said Mr Abbott.

However, he pointed to one area of tighter regulation: “We will welcome foreign investment that passes a strict national interest test.”

Mr Abbott said: “We will expand the role of the market where it’s clear that people will be better off.

“We will limit the reach of government because the state exists for citizens, not the other way round. We are determined to make a difference but the changes we will make have to be sustainable which is why they have to come from the national conversation rather than be imposed from on high.”

Mr Abbott announced industry minister Sophie Mirabella and shadow resources minister Ian Macfarlane would co-chair a review of “industries for Australia’s future” scheduled to report before Christmas.

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