NSW’s peak business organisation, the NSW Business Chamber, is marking one year to go to the next state election with the launch of its policy priorities for the next government of NSW.

The NSW Business Chamber’s policy blueprint, “Unfinished Business: Towards 2015 and beyond”, highlights five challenges which will need to be met by whichever political party forms government following the election.

The priorities for the next election include:

  1. Fund and deliver more infrastructure across NSW through public asset swaps
  2. Revitalise and reform Local Government;
  3. Deliver senior schooling more effectively to improve outcomes for young people
  4. Improve NSW’s energy security and address pricing challenges
  5. Put NSW on the front foot by creating a more competitive tax system.

“Our priorities list is a message for every politician and every political party in NSW,” said Stephen Cartwright, CEO of the NSW Business Chamber.

“The NSW Business Chamber ran the award-winning “10 Big Ideas to Grow NSW” campaign before the last State election and toured the State with the “NSW Deserves Better” Bus that drew unprecedented public support and heralded a new approach to public policy in NSW.

“The O’Farrell Government has done an excellent job in restoring accountability. NSW has a government that will deliver on its promises.

“The Premier and his team can be very proud of their achievements over the past three years. NSW is firmly on the path to a prosperous future but as is always the case, there are challenges we need to meet head on to keep on that path.

“Many of these priorities will be familiar to the people of NSW because they continue to be challenges that have been ignored by successive NSW Governments and will not go away until we tackle them head on.

“We have continued to debate the case for swapping the State’s electricity assets for new infrastructure for nearly 20 years while our infrastructure deficit continues to rise.

“Every person in NSW can rattle off a list of projects they believe should be built to make the state more efficient and improve our quality of life, but without freeing up capital from lazy assets on the state’s balance sheet, they will remain unbuilt.

“It remains an historical absurdity that Sydney continues to be governed by 41 local councils. Our city needs larger, better-resourced councils that can work with state and federal governments to deliver a stronger vision for Sydney and the infrastructure and services our citizens deserve.

“The fact that Sydney’s western CBD of Parramatta does not have the same financial clout as the City of Sydney Council, demonstrates the failure of our local government system and why we need wholesale reform.

“Preparing our kids for their careers has to be a higher priority for our education system and in particular the Higher School Certificate qualification. Our concern has long been that this important qualification has been skewed towards university entry and doesn’t reflect the fact that 70% of students do not travel down the university path when they leave school.

“The HSC needs to be updated to provide a qualification that supports students moving into vocational education and training or straight into their first job in addition to a university path. A comprehensive review of the HSC by government is required.

“Australia is about to join the international gas market for the first time in our history. Exporting gas overseas will place pressure on local gas prices and the security of supply.

“Businesses already have to deal with rising electricity prices only to now see gas prices skyrocket. There is a clear case for the NSW Government to encourage the safe development and capture of NSW gas reserves to ensure supply and moderate gas prices.

“We like to think that our state is the nation’s leader but when it comes to tax reform and reducing the burden on our employing-businesses, we are well behind Victoria and Queensland.

“There remains a strong obligation for the government to deliver its commitment as part of the GST agreement to abolish a host of anti-business taxes that make it difficult and costly for businesses to be transferred or restructured to survive when the economy downturns.

Payroll tax continues to be a tax on employment and the payroll tax rate remains well above that in Victoria and Queensland. NSW needs to make a stronger effort to be the first choice location to set up a new business, but a higher tax system is not helping.

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