At the IPA’s National Congress this week, a panel including IPA chief executive Andrew Conway, former federal small business minister and current chair of the Franchise Council of Australia Bruce Billson and Board of Taxation chief executive Karen Payne agreed on the need for meaningful reform – namely to Australia’s taxation system.
The panel members unanimously encouraged accountants to make their voices heard to government via avenues including their representative bodies, believing that grassroots action is a serious conduit for political change.
“The people in this room are in the best position to know what are the priorities for tax improvement and the reduction of red tape that would assist small business,” Ms Payne told delegates. “Make sure that those ideas are voiced.”
Mr Billson added to that point, saying current generations will gift future generations a lower standard of living and a poorer retirement outlook if serious and meaningful reform is not kept high on the political agenda.
He told accountants their lobbying is critical to taking change to Canberra, and added that now – at a time when we are free of serious economic downturn – is the time to get the wheels in motion.
“I have always been a believer in fixing the roof when the sun is shining. Don’t wait until the bedroom is full of rain. And that is what we should be doing right now,” he said.
“The world is run by people who turn up. If you turn up and have your voice heard and mount your argument, you can bring about an influence and have a capacity for change. And that’s not what you’re seeing at the moment,” he said.
Adding to that point, Mr Conway encouraged delegates to use the avenues available to them to have their voices heard.
“We all say we want bold reform. But we have to be, not just in our own communities, but collectively, be bold in our thinking … shifting our focus from the here and the now to long-term gain. So to Bruce’s point [about the world] being run by people who turn up, I would say the world is changed by people who stand up,” he said.
NAB's chief economist Alan Oster, who also sat on the panel, said he fears that without the push and appetite for significant reform, Australia's economic future will be bleak.
“People always say to me ‘Are you worried we’re going to do something stupid?’. My answer is no, I’m worried we’re not going to do anything,” he said.