BOOSTING GROWTH AND EQUITY THROUGH MEMBER-OWNED FIRMS
A Shorten Labor Government will make Australia’s economy more productive and our society more egalitarian by creating a taskforce to streamline regulations and break down barriers for new competitors.
This election is a choice between Labor’s plan for more health investment or bigger tax loopholes for the top end of town under the Liberals, paid for by cuts to the services Australians rely on.
Over the past generation, Australia’s start-up rate has fallen, and inequality has risen. Productivity growth has been disappointing, retail sales are fragile, and the gains from economic growth have gone disproportionately to corporate profits rather than wages.
That's why as part of our Inclusive Ownership, Inclusive Growth policies, Labor will create a Competition and Growth Taskforce to sit within Treasury and include staff from diverse backgrounds including not-for-profits, superannuation and the cooperative and mutuals sector. The Taskforce would be allocated $3 million over the forward estimates.
The Competition and Growth Taskforce’s overarching responsibilities will be to “examine the structure, distribution and effects of capital ownership in Australia.” This will encompass issues tasked to it by Government, and independent research and policy development.
Under a Shorten Labor Government, the taskforce would immediately be tasked with:
- Corporate governance reform, filling the gap left by the abolition of the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee by the Liberals, who defunded it at the behest of their vested interest mates. The Taskforce would be asked to immediately focus on completing the Annual General Meeting and Shareholder Engagement report that the CAMAC started.
- Guiding the remaining recommendations of the Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into Co-ops and Mutuals, which primarily involve the coordination of government regulation and information to reflect business plurality. This is great news for the 150,000 people who already work in the sector, and the four out of five Australians who are members of cooperatives and mutuals.
- Reviewing national harmonisation of cooperative laws, including exploring the referral of state powers (legislated under the Cooperatives National Law) to the federal government, and bringing cooperatives into the proposed Director Identification Number regime.
- Making recommendations to government on small business transition policies – particularly in relation to small business owners who wish to sell their business to their employees upon retirement as a worker-owned cooperative.
- Guiding policy on encouraging employee ownership, including employee share ownership schemes.
- Developing practical reforms to make it easier for new competitors to emerge, including coordinating reforms between federal, state and territory governments to improve the ease of doing business. The proposed reforms would streamline regulation, seeking to reduce the number of government administrative procedures, the cost of those procedures and the time it takes to start a business, become an exporter, connect utilities and register property.
Through the Taskforce, Labor will look at ways to encourage managers to take a long view; examine the market concentration of firms and what steps could be taken to encourage capital ownership across firm types; and explore the recognition of non-corporate forms and potential government policy responses to the findings.
This taskforce will complement Labor’s policies for the cooperative or mutual sector. Labor led this debate, with the Government eventually legislating reform for greater access to capital more than two years after Labor announced our policies.
Under Bill Shorten, Labor has a plan for inclusive growth. The Morrison Government offers only cuts and chaos.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.