National Accounts reveal we are sleepwalking into a living standards crisis

Business Council of Australia

Economic data released today shows that unless we pull out all stops now to increase productivity we are at serious risk of sleepwalking into long term economic decline, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Today’s GDP figures confirm that growth in Australia’s economy has continued to slow with annual economic growth at just 2.1 per cent and productivity falling.

“This compares to our long run average growth of 3.3 per cent, meaning we are slipping further behind the rest of the world.

“The only good news was the bounce in exports and business investment, ahead of an end to temporary tax breaks. However, business investment remains low as a share of GDP.

“We are also seeing a fall in commodity prices which is of huge concern, dragging down national income. No one in Australia should think profits going down is a good thing – ultimately, this impacts mum and dad shareholders who rely on those dividends.

“GDP growth per capita is in recession, which means the income of each and every Australian is falling. Outside the pandemic, this is the first back to back decline in ten years.

“Governments around Australia need to pull out all stops to make Australia more competitive and the only way to do this is to lift investment and productivity – this is the only way to lift real wages and living standards.

“As outlined in our recently released Seize the Moment report, if we simply return to the long run growth rate, within a decade, the economy would be $200 billion larger, tax revenue would rise by $50 billion and every Australian would be $7,000 per year better off.

“Business is deeply concerned that it is clear our productivity numbers are going backwards, which means real wages will go nowhere.

“Productivity comes when people invest and innovate to create value, doing things differently and from cooperative workplaces.

“This is precisely why the last thing the Australian economy needs right now is an old-fashioned employment system that puts further restrictions on the way people are employed.

“These figures today confirm the high risk of proceeding with the government’s unworkable industrial relations Bill.

“At a time when our economy is facing a further slowdown and families are struggling with cost of living, why risk adding complexity, confusion and more restrictions to our workplaces and make it harder to employ people?”

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