Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sharing Business Ownership with Workers

Australia should rapidly implement a new economic vision for the future in which workers share in the profits and ownership of businesses, an idea championed by the DLP for decades. Progress in Australia has been at a relative snail’s pace, we have now been left behind by recent implementation of this reform in Europe and the US.

Federal and state governments should provide increased tax incentives and remove obstacles to businesses sharing profits and ownership with their workers. Rewards for workers in the form of shares and dividends should also be taxed more favourably than they are at present.

Benefits would include easier capital accumulation and improved productivity and profitability for businesses and higher real wages, increased savings and long term prosperity for workers. Workers would have improved morale and concern for the profitability of the business. Profit sharing arrangements in 1990 at SPC, for example, were a major factor in saving that company. Instituted on a large scale, sharing ownership with workers will align the interests of employees and employers and greatly benefit both.

Australian manufacturing is in rapid decline due to imports. Even the agricultural sector is under strain. Measures such as selected protection and denying access to our markets to competitors who do not trade fairly are important measures that should be implemented, so should sharing the ownership of businesses with workers. Will Australia retain a manufacturing sector without the productivity and efficiency benefits that follow from sharing ownership with workers?

Successive governments in Australia have taken some very small steps. This process needs to be rapidly accelerated. I will do my best to encourage that process if elected to represent Western Victoria in the Legislative Council.

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