The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is calling for an economic reform agenda for retailers - and wants the September Federal Election to be the catalyst.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said the retail industry needed decisive movement on tax reform, infrastructure, workplace relations and vocational education. That was the only way retailers could improve productivity and achieve economic performance and growth.
He said business costs for the majority of the retail sector were currently unsustainable. The view of his members was that Australia would need a stable, majority government to bring about the type of swift action needed.
"The question on everyone's lips has been answered, but over the next 227 days the question from retailers will be, ‘what's in it for business?', as many struggle with business costs which are unsustainable and in need of a complete review and overhaul," Mr Zimmerman said.
"There are still uncertainties in the remaining life of this Parliament. With continued support for the government, its legislation and leadership is hanging on an unstable alliance of Greens, independents and disenfranchised former major political party members.
"The ARA holds deep concerns that without the economic certainty a strong majority government would bring there will continue to be a lack of stability given all legislation will continue to be compromised to meet the conflicting ideologies of multiple political interests without a majority Government."
The ARA has a checklist of key reforms it believes are crucial to the viability of Australia's "$243 billion retail industry".
The ARA is calling on the current and alternate Federal Governments to make moves in the right direction urgently.
The ARA wants tax reform, including a reduction of the Low Value Imports Threshold (LVIT) and abolition of what it calls "inefficient taxes on businesses and individuals" to drive economic reform and create more jobs "including a full review of the GST".
The ARA wants the Federal Government to urgently "respond to flexibility, productivity and participation needs of modern workplaces to ensure fairness, productivity and creativity".
There is also the call for enhanced investment in logistics and infrastructure to lift productivity and efficiency in the retail sector.
The ARA is supporting "a return to a budget surplus over time allowing real tax relief" and to "reduce the pressure on business and consumers' pockets".
In particular, the ARA has discerned a skills shortage in the management level of the retail industries and is calling on the Federal Government to "invest in vocational education and training to respond to skills shortages".
Mr Zimmerman said, "The ARA believes a strong, globally competitive economy which provides large and small business with the commercial freedom to take calculated risks, invest and secure productive rewards ultimately benefits business owners and managers, their families, employees and consumers.
"Our economy comprises over 120,000 retail enterprises, most of which are small businesses but some of which are among the largest and most successful corporations in the world.
"As the peak industry body and the direct line between government and industry, the ARA will be advocating for the best outcomes for Australian retailers," Mr Zimmerman said.