Rudd to unleash productivity revolution with key targets

By: Jason Whittaker

The Federal Government plans to develop specific infrastructure targets and roll back red tape in an effort to drive productivity

The Federal Government plans to develop specific infrastructure targets and roll back red tape in an effort to drive productivity growth in key economic areas.

In a speech delivered at Melbourne University, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told attendees his government will direct Cabinet, Treasury and the Department of Finance and Deregulation to look at ways of boosting Australia’s sagging productivity figures.

Productivity targets are due to be released in the coming months and will focus on key drivers such as infrastructure, skills and innovation and supply chain bottlenecks.

According to Rudd, the Government will implement specific indicators to determine investment priorities as well as to track the success of its "productivity revolution".

The Prime Minister highlighted the need for a wide agenda of business deregulation, arguing it is necessary to drive productivity growth.

Rudd says Infrastructure Australia will play an important role in the reform agenda and will be charged with advising on how to remove barriers to ensure greater investment in infrastructure projects.

According to Rudd, the 27 areas of deregulation agreed to at the recent meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will strip away some of the regulatory burden currently crippling industry. In an effort to cut red tape, governments will streamline regulations such as occupational health and safety.

During the speech, Rudd told attendees Australia had suffered for too long from short-term actions and his government’s reform agenda aims to put in place policies to ensure growth well into the next decade.

He berated the late Howard Government, accusing it of ignoring a fall in productivity growth which plummeted from 3.3 percent in 1998-99 to 1.1 percent in 2006-07.

"Australia has now almost lost the relative productivity gains of the 1990s," he says.

"And so Australia must now being to implement a policy of long-term reform to boost productivity growth through a productivity revolution," Rudd says.

He says it also failed to seize the opportunities generated by the mining boom to invest in key projects.

"The result of inadequate and poorly targeted investment in skills formation, in innovative capacity, in infrastructure, and in budget management now manifests itself in skills shortages, infrastructure bottlenecks and inflation," Rudd says.

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