Infrastructure body is “urgent” say industry associations

08 March, 2017

WA’s peak industry associations call on whoever forms the next WA government to establish an independent statutory body for infrastructure.

The push comes just days out from Saturday’s state election and has united the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI), Property Council of Australia, Engineers Australia, Construction Contractors Association of WA, Urban Development Institute of WA and the Master Builders Association.

An independent statutory infrastructure body must deliver transparent, bipartisan infrastructure plans for the short, medium and long terms, the organisations – which represent 32,000 members and 470,000 employees – say.

“WA urgently needs an independent infrastructure body to develop a long-term infrastructure plan. Government must treat this as a priority,” Engineers Australia General Manager WA Susan Kreemer Pickford says on behalf of the groups.

Urban Development Institute of Australia CEO Allison Hailes says the current approach is not sustainable.

“Perth can only become a truly prosperous, liveable and connected city if the provision of all major infrastructure is carefully planned and coordinated by an independent body.”

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott says an independent body will achieve greater innovation in funding and delivery of infrastructure projects.

“Long-term plans will provide certainty to guide investment, enhance productivity and make communities more viable by providing jobs, housing and local amenity,” she says.

Labor payroll tax pledge a must

Meanwhile, WA’s peak industry associations representing more than 27,500 businesses and 500,000 employees have joined forces to reiterate the importance of payroll tax reform.

CCI, Australian Hotels Association, Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, Civil Contractors Federation, Master Builders Association, Real Estate Institute of WA and the WA Road Transport Association have called on WA Labor leader Mark McGowan to commit to increasing the payroll tax threshold, with a view to abolishing the tax entirely in the future.

Their call comes after the Liberal Party committed to increasing the payroll tax threshold to $900,000 if re-elected on Saturday.

Speaking on behalf of the industry associations, Willmott says because payroll tax reform is vital to creating jobs and stimulating growth for WA businesses.

“The business community – including the building, property, transport and logistics and SME sectors – seek the same level of support from WA Labor to lifting the payroll tax threshold,” she says.

“Lifting the payroll tax threshold will help put Western Australians back to work, especially when four out of five WA jobs are created by the private sector.”

Payroll tax presents a significant barrier to employment as it deters small business owners from taking on more staff as they approach the tax threshold.

Research commissioned by CCI found that lifting the payroll tax threshold by $100,000 would create nearly 900 jobs for workers – directly and indirectly – with a $283 million economic benefit to the state.