Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott says major resources projects are being tied up in “green tape” which are acting as a “silent and costly dead weight” on the national economy and jobs.
In a major speech to the Australian British Chamber of Commerce in Perth today Ms Westacott will lash the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act and say it is stymieing resources projects and risking jobs because environmental protection is the “issue du jour”.
Ms Westacott will tell the hundreds-strong crowd at The Westin the impact of unnecessary regulation is being felt acutely in WA.
And she will call for a greater focus on boosting productivity and a return to the debate around corporate tax and the impact it is having on small business.
“A major project in regional Western Australia that will create thousands of jobs can be tangled up in green tape by a group in Melbourne that decides it is their issue du jour,” Ms Westacott will say.
“Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, they can launch an appeal against project approvals.”
Ms Westacott will call for the upcoming 10-year review into the EPBC act — to commence by October — to remove appeal rights for non-impacted third parties in order to speed up major project approvals.
The business chief told The West Australian last night: “The message I hear very clearly from people here in WA is that they don’t want their economic futures to depend on the opinions of an electorate in the inner cities of the east coast.”
Ms Westacott will say the Government needs to urgently address productivity and “instead of talking about how we punish people who get ahead, we should be rewarding them”.
“It is through being a productive country, not just the lucky country, that we can continue to be resilient against global forces, competitive and lock in higher wages and better living standards,” she will say.
Ms Westacott will say Australia’s productivity growth has fallen from 2.2 per cent a year in the 1990s to 1.2 per cent a year since 2010. And “attacking unnecessary red tape and regulation” was a key pillar in the strategy to boost productivity.
Ms Westacott will also say the company tax rate of 30 per cent was “holding back smaller businesses from growing”.
“The rest of the world is moving to reduce their rates and we are stranded with the second-highest effective marginal company tax rate in the OECD.”
On trading hours Ms Westacott will also say the issue needs urgent attention.
“It’s crazy to argue that we need to give the little family-owned cafe a chance on Sundays before Woolies and Coles open — because the cafe relies on people stopping in for a coffee on their way to do their grocery shopping,” she will say.
Last week Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into mining projects to ensure they could get approved faster and in a more streamlined way.