Election announcement greeted by calls for reform

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s early announcement of the federal election has been met with a call for economic reform by the Australian Retailer’s Association (ARA).

Gillard took most pundits by surprise when she announced that the election would be held on the 14th of September at a National Press Club speech.

In laying out her case for re-election, Gillard mentioned last year’s manufacturing report and reaffirmed her commitment to a sustainable budget.

“Backing Australian firms to win work at home, win business abroad, and create new jobs and growth, above all through co-operative innovation, through firms and employees, researchers and governments all working smarter together,” said Gillard.

The ARA has used the announcement to call for a campaign outlining an economic reform agenda for retailers and small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“There are still uncertainties in the remaining life of this Parliament,” said Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA. “With continued support for the Government, its legislation and leadership is hanging on an unstable alliance of Greens, independents and disenfranchised former major political party members.”

Zimmerman said that the ARA is concerned that without a strong majority government there would be economic uncertainty and conflicting ideologies at play.

“Our economy comprises over 120,000 retail enterprises, most of which are small businesses but some of which are among the largest and most successful corporations in the world,” he added. “As the peak industry body and the direct line between government and industry, the ARA will be advocating for the best outcomes for Australian retailers.”

The reforms that the ARA is calling for are:

•    Tax reform: including a reduction of the Low-Value Imports Threshold (LVIT) and the abolition of inefficient taxes on businesses and individuals to drive economic reform and create more jobs including a full review of the GST.
•    Respond to flexibility, productivity,
and participation needs of modern workplaces to ensure fairness, productivity, and creativity.
•    A majority government.
•    Enhanced investment in logistics and infrastructure to lift productivity and efficiency.
•    Supporting a return to a budget surplus over time allowing real tax relief and reduce the pressure on business and consumers’ pockets.
•    Invest in vocational education and training to respond to skills shortages particularly at the management level in the retail sector.

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