NFP Directors Want Parliament to Prioritise Health and Education
30 August 2016 at 11:21 am
A growing number of directors want the federal government to address health and education in the short term, according to the latest sentiment index.
The Director Sentiment Index, by Australian Institute of Company Directors, found directors have “grave doubts” about the new parliament’s ability to deliver reform, despite a slight increase in overall sentiment.
AICD general manager of advocacy Louise Petschler told Pro Bono Australia News the focus on social issues was likely driven from the Not for Profit sector, which represents a third of the institute’s 38,500 members.
“We saw a big, big increase in the percentage of directors that are saying that education and health are issues of importance that the federal government must address in the short term,” Petschler said.
“There’s a strong theme around social services and the infrastructure that’s needed to support effective investments in social services around… four areas of community service; health, investment in skills and education, and in dealing with changing demographics that we suspect are driven possibly by a big focus from our NFP members.”
Overall, directors almost unanimously called on the new parliament to increase infrastructure investment.
“From the biggest listed company to the smallest unlisted business, including the Not for Profit sector, there’s a couple of things well around the 90 per cent of respondent rates,” Petschler said.
“That’s a really strong message on infrastructure as the key long-term priority for government. So we’re getting very consistent message… across all the sectors that infrastructure investment should be the number one priority for the government over the long term, and it’s going to have the biggest impact on productivity and growth.”
The survey also asked directors to rank their three infrastructure investment priorities – regional infrastructure was rated first, renewable energy investment was the second priority, and roads and transport infrastructure third.
However, the index also found directors were pessimistic about the new parliament’s ability to deliver on long-term investment projects.
“All directors across all sectors including the NFP sector are sending a very strong message about short termism. They say if Australia could combat short termism in policy making, that would have a significant boost to productivity,” Petschler said.
“While there’s this hunger for long-term reforms and long-term focus, we get a very consistent message that directors around the country have grave doubts about the ability of the incoming parliament to deliver.
“Almost 90 per cent of our respondents said they see the new Senate as negative for confidence.
“And 85 per cent of directors tell us that they view the quality of public policy debate in Australia as poor.”
Despite the negative sentiment, she said it was important for boards to advocate for change and contribute to meaningful public policy debate.
“It’s up to the incoming parliament to prove the sentiment wrong, show that they can deliver that reform,” she said.
“But it points also, we think, to shifting the dial on the quality of public policy debate, it’s a job for… more than just politicians.
“The AICD’s view is that all stakeholders need to play a role in that, and it’s up to community and business leaders to make a contribution to changing that view around the perception of public policy.
“It’s important that the leaders of Not for Profit organisations, leaders of the business community are out there making the case for long-term reform and making a constructive contribution to the policy debate.
“The survey tells us directors are very pessimistic about where politics is headed in Australia and about the ability of the new parliament to deliver, and… our view is to change that, we all have a role to play, not just our politicians.”