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Leaders to talk reform with Turnbull

Business, union and community leaders will head to Malcolm Turnbull’s mini-summit with a lengthy wish list.

But the scheduled three-hour meeting with the prime minister on Thursday is unlikely to be long enough to discuss their wants in full.

Even so, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Kate Carnell told AAP it is a “great initiative” as a follow-up to a privately sponsored reform gathering in August.

Mr Turnbull is equally enthusiastic about the gathering.

“The future of our country, our prosperity, will depend on the extent to which we can be more innovative, more technologically sophisticated and creative, more competitive and more productive,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on Wednesday.

At the centre of the talks will be the government’s tax reform process and a key plank to lift Australia’s economic wellbeing and international competitiveness.

This will include the need for income tax cuts to tackle the growing number of average wage earners who will find themselves in a higher tax bracket through wage inflation, otherwise know as bracket creep.

Corporate tax rates also remain well above the global average, while the GST rate at 10 per cent is one of the lowest in the world, yet one of the tax system’s most efficient.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said one of the most important things the meeting can accomplish in the taxation debate is to bring the Australian people along with the sort of changes that are needed.

Ms Carnell said there is also the need to address greater workforce participation among women, older and younger people, and a better alignment of vocational and university education with the rapidly changing needs of business.

She and community groups such as National Seniors Australia want retirement policy on the agenda, and in particular changes to superannuation tax concessions for high-income earners that were ruled out under the leadership of Tony Abbott.

“If we are to move to a situation with fewer Australians being reliant on the pension … then we have got to have better incentives for people on lower to middle incomes,” Ms Carnell said.

Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox said political circumstances have created a window for rigorous and imaginative policy debate and development in the lead up to the election in 2016.

“It is critical that we make the most of this opportunity and use it as a springboard to boost domestic innovation and competitiveness,” Mr Willox said.


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