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‘We have to do more’: Peter Costello to tackle productivity at Yahoo Finance Summit

Former federal treasurer Peter Costello delivering a keynote speech in 2014.

Solving Australia’s productivity problem has become a top priority for the nation.

In a speech to the Business Council of Australia on Monday morning, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg outlined the factors hamstringing Australia’s productivity growth and indicated that the government would be paving the way for businesses to boost their performance.

“Our productivity growth over the last decade has slowed and we cannot simply rely on high commodity prices to boost national income,” Frydenberg said.

“What is in our control is our ability to influence productivity with the right policy settings and business practises.”

Productivity is currently hovering around 1.1 per cent, which runs below the long-term target of 1.5 per cent.

Frydenberg isn’t the only Australian treasurer concerned about tackling the problem of productivity.

The country’s longest-serving treasurer, Peter Costello, will be delivering a keynote speech at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit in Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel on September 26 to tackle productivity, monetary policy and the impact the escalating trade tensions will have on Australia.

And he’s not shy about the role the government has to play in tackling this.

“We've used monetary policy to try and stimulate our economy. We've used budget policy to try and stimulate our economy,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“And I think now we're going to have to use structural policy to try and boost productivity.

“We'll have to try and do more on that front … It means [government] supports measures that keep costs down for running businesses in Australia.”

Cutting red tape for businesses

Costello’s successor and the treasurer of the day made similar comments in his speech on Monday, recognising the role of government as “an enabler” of businesses, which in turn are the “principal driver of economic activity”.

“The Morrison Government’s plan to turn the tide on productivity growth focuses on enabling productive businesses to invest in more and better quality tools to equip workers; creating opportunities to improve the skills and capabilities of our labour force and empowering businesses to put labour and capital to work,” Frydenberg said.

“Our focus now needs to be on how we can more effectively encourage business investment.

“This is not about providing tax breaks for companies to do what they will be

doing anyway, but rather putting the right settings in place to enable them to

go a step further and back themselves to grow.”

Peter Costello will speak about global economic headwinds impacting Australia at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on the 26th of September 2019 in the Shangri-La, Sydney. Check out the full line-up of speakers and agenda for this groundbreaking event here.

The inaugural Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit will launch on September 26 in Sydney's Shangri-La.