2016: what lies ahead - The Centre for Independent Studies
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2016: what lies ahead

9b8c42ae-5f5d-441b-8b88-4fb8c339d1feAs the festive season closes, 2016 arrives with many promises and challenges.

For starters, the New Year brings a set of new laws ranging from childcare services to new caps on superannuation income to more restrictive test requirements on school leavers. In all shapes and sizes, some of these new legislations are laudable — such as changes to the Student Loan Payments requiring those living overseas be subject to the same conditions as if they lived in Australia — but others are borderline of state-nannyism: for instance the new NSW regulation on cyclists to carry photo ID at all times.

In regards to the much-needed structural reforms to improve Australia’s productivity, there is a long list of areas to tackle. First, the competition reform is our best bet to lift the economy. The federal government response to the Harper review is a good start, supporting the bulk of its 56 recommendations. However, most of these recommendations lie outside the federal jurisdiction, and require cooperation and championing from Australia’s states and territories.

Another area ripe for change is tax reform. Unfortunately, most of the debate focuses on lifting tax revenues, and very few are actually engaging in constructive talks to deliver the “lower, simpler, fairer taxes” deceptively trumpeted by government.

Both competition and tax reforms lead to another less-hyped area for reform currently under review led by the federation white paper. There is much to do in this arena, from eliminating overlap and duplication in Australia’s federal-state relations to fixing the corrosive vertical fiscal imbalance. Alas, recent COAG meetings are testament of the political challenges to modernise the Federation.

Last, but by no means least, comes the workplace laws reform. Regrettably, the Productivity Commission’s released report is a timid — some say a lost opportunity – response to the failures of an over-convoluted and outdated industrial relations system. Hopefully the bold findings of the Royal Commission’s six-volume final report on the two-year inquiry into the “widespread and deep-seated” corruption within the union movement will give desperately needed political impetus for change.

And yes, this is an election year… so look forward to more promises. And hopefully action to match them.