The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) has welcomed today’s release of the Productivity Commission’s review of Australia’s productivity to improve our nation’s liveability, market economy and future of work.

CCI Chief Economist Rick Newnham said the Productivity Commission’s report is a roadmap for change that must be agreed to by all levels of government to ensure innovation and market growth are at the forefront of long-term strategic planning in health care, education, and our city’s transformation.

“CCI has long called for reform of WA’s health budget, which accounts for more than half of all government spending increases in the last three years,” Mr Newnham said.

“In CCI’s pre-budget submission, we highlighted the significant role technology has to play in repairing the health budget, particularly through Telehealth services, which can provide opportunities for lower-cost delivery of regional health services. Technology can bridge the gap between service provider and patient at the fraction of the cost of onsite delivery.”

CCI is also in lockstep with the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to improve governance arrangements for public infrastructure by ensuring that proposed projects are subject to cost-benefit analysis, and to implement a ‘user-pays’ system for road use.

“As electric vehicles become more popular in WA we need to modernise the way government funds road infrastructure. Instead of taxing petrol, which not all motorists use anymore, we could use technology to charge road users for the exact amount relevant to their use,” Mr Newnham said.

“Outside the State Government’s well-flagged METRONET, infrastructure spending is lacking in WA over the forward estimates.

“Investment in WA infrastructure needs to be progressed on priority projects that will create the greatest economic benefit to the state as a whole. Projects should be based on a robust cost benefit analysis to maximise value for money for the state.

“CCI’s pre-budget submission recommended that WA infrastructure planning transcend short-term politics, and the State Government can facilitate this through the establishment of Infrastructure WA.”

CCI also encourages the State Government to take particular note of the Productivity Commission’s estimate that removing restrictions on WA’s onerous and overregulated retail trading hours will inject about $200 million into our state.

“The Productivity Commission recommended the removal of WA’s restrictive retail trading hours in 2011, but instead of the Government continuing to liberalise retail trading hours, they have taken a significant backwards step, knocking back CCI’s application for extended trading on last month’s Queens Birthday public holiday,” Mr Newnham said.

“Allowing shops to open extra hours is about providing local businesses with the ability to compete at their very best, and to decide when they want to open their doors.”