Sights set on growth

Our new government can stoke the infrastructure fires.

Thanks to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first 100 days of a new administration is a touchstone of political authority and resolve. FDR’s 1933 policy blitz loosed a rhythm of urgency that propelled a listless US economy to recovery.

Tony Abbott’s victorious Coalition promises to restore Australia’s animal spirits after three years of fatigue and disillusion. The Property Council has given the Abbott team a 100-day blueprint to energise strong economic growth.

Cop on the construction beat

The Coalition will restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission within three months of the new Parliament’s first sitting day.

The Property Council has provided a detailed plan for relaunching a powerful agency that will apply the rules of civil society to construction sites. The result will be greater investment, more jobs and lower construction costs.

Direct action on climate change

Abbott promises to deliver the same greenhouse gas abatement as Kevin Rudd. $2.55 billion has been earmarked to buy this abatement via a reverse auction system. The Property Council is helping the Coalition design an Emissions Reduction Fund that incentivises property investors to rebirth and tune-up their buildings. Step-change improvements in energy efficiency can deliver the Coalition more than 30 per cent of its emission reduction target.

Modernising taxes

The Coalition has promised a White Paper on tax modernisation that includes a review of the GST. Without root and branch reform of the entire system, the property industry will continue to face a storm of inefficient tax burdens that stymie growth and increase living costs. Abbott will require a massive chorus of business and community organisations to loudly back a long- term reform program.

Infrastructure

Abbott promises to be the ‘Infrastructure Prime Minister’. He’ll strengthen Infrastructure Australia—the nation’s priority setting body—to develop rolling 15-year infrastructure plans in league with states and territories.

The Coalition is instituting a Finance Advisory Unit to explore smart infrastructure funding techniques. Treasurer Joe Hockey has committed to advocate the development of a long-dated bond market in Australia.

What’s missing is a plan as bold as the UK ‘City Deals’ program that champions long-term planning and infrastructure investment, improved metropolitan governance and close collaboration across Australia’s nine governments.

Housing

The Coalition vows to get more out of states and territories by establishing housing agreements that tie Commonwealth funding to delivery of supply against agreed targets. Abbott will retain the National Rental Affordability Scheme, but reform it to more effectively attract investment.

Slashing red and green tape

Last year, more than 7000 pages of new legislation were enacted. The Coalition has a first-class plan to slash regulation. This includes Parliamentary sitting days devoted to getting rid of inferior laws. The Property Council’s Regulation Reform Challenge outlines a chapter and verse program for lacerating the red tape lunacy. The PM has already promised to implement a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach for Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation approvals.
We’re urging him to apply the same reformist zeal to another 26 pieces of policy folly.

Forging a regional funds management hub

The Coalition has committed to revive the Johnson report recommendations to transform Australia into a leading regional financial services centre. We’re working closely with the new government to galvanise Treasury into positive action.

And there’s more

Indeed, there’s much more already in train, with further announcements in the wings. Former PM John Howard told this year’s Property Council Congress that “politicians need conviction” while “balancing good policy and good politics”.

The Property Council is working actively with the Abbott team to help them negotiate this political tightrope.