TIME TO IMPROVE: Our inputs, like natural resources and labour, need to achieve production levels for a sound economy.
TIME TO IMPROVE: Our inputs, like natural resources and labour, need to achieve production levels for a sound economy. Contributed

Time to improve our productivity

ANYBODY who regularly reads this column will know how concerned I am about productivity in Australia.

Poor productivity could eventually sink our nation economically if somehow we can't learn to use our resources to meet financial goals.

Our natural resources, labour and technology (inputs) must achieve production levels (outputs) which meet improved gross domestic product benchmarks, which in turn will mean acceptable levels of economic growth without the spectre of wage-push inflation.

The only way that this can be achieved is to remove the sense of entitlement that came with the Howard years - when the tax system took with one hand and gave with the other, when the net tax paid by middle Australia (Howard's "battlers") was next to nothing because families got the tax they paid back in family entitlements.

This philosophy, perpetuated by Labor and promised to be continued under a new Abbot government, has Australian workers failing to link their pay to key performance indicators, or measures of productivity.

In other words, remuneration above a basic but fair level should be linked to the achievement of clearly listed goals - KPIs.

Pressure should be taken off the tax system by making people responsible for their own well-being and that of the families they choose to have: an offsetting of much lower personal taxation against lower "entitlements".

Not that I'm saying that governments shouldn't look after those who need support in our community or ignore health services or, heaven forbid, education which is the key factor in utilising resources.

I have recently turned to our Asian neighbours for inspiration in my quest for the holy grail of improved productivity.

Asian business leaders talk volubly of vision in achieving productivity improvements. They encourage a customer-centric ethos and educate middle managers to empower staff in contributing suggestions for evolution and change in keeping with the vision. Workers who don't get it, get it - the chop without reference to a worker-centric industrial relations system.



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