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PM outlines economic agenda, war on red tape

Mr Morrison will use the speech to put pressure on Labor to back the $158 billion tax cuts in full, will announce the red tape mission to be led by assistant minister Ben Morton and will outline his interest in workplace relations reform.

His intent is certain to antagonise envionmentalists and others given years of argument over major projects including the Adani mine in Queensland, setting the scene for bitter argument over the impact on the environment from any loosening of the environmental rules.

He will also name government red tape as a top priority and declare his intention of speeding up approvals for major projects like mines, comparing his mission to clearing the “cholesterol in the arteries” for business investment.

“Protectionist sentiment and trade conflict, especially between China and the US, is weighing heavily on global confidence and here in Australia as well,” Mr Morrison will say, according to a draft of the speech.

“The uncertainty regarding Brexit is also not helping, although the impact of this on Australia is quite muted.

“The unfolding of all of these events are own goals for the global economy as the broader consensus points to the fundamentals of the global economy being relatively sound.”

Mr Morrison will say the “international risks have increased” over the first half of this year, naming this as an urgent issue for the Group of 20 summit of world leaders he will attend in Japan later this week.

In an important statement on workplace relations, Mr Morrison will challenge the union movement to crack down on officials who break the law, without directly citing construction union boss John Setka and the effort by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to expel him from the Labor Party.

Mr Morrison will emphasise his intention to put the Ensuring Integrity Bill to Parliament next week to toughen penalties against registered organisations and officials who regularly break the law, but he will also signal a wider look at industrial law.

“Like you, our government believes in cooperative workplaces,” he will tell the business group in Perth.

“In his new capacity as Minister for Industrial Relations, I am asking Christian Porter to take a fresh look at how the system is operating and where there may be impediments to shared gains for employers and employees.

“Any changes in this area must be evidence-based, protect the rights and entitlements of workers and have clear gains for the economy and for working Australians.

“We would expect business organisations such as yours to build the evidence for change and help bring the community along with you too.”

The message is a direct call to business leaders to make the case for industrial relations change, without committing the government to any specific proposal and leaving it up to others to lead the debate.

On red tape, Mr Morrison will also hint at his ambition to enact major change over time and will reveal that Mr Morton, a trusted ally during the election campaign and last August’s leadership spill, will lead this effort.

“There is a clear need to improve approvals timeframes and reduce regulatory costs, but in many cases regulators are making things worse,” Mr Morrison says in the draft speech.

“Look at the WA Environment Protection Authority and the uncertainty it has created over new emissions requirements for the resources sector. Business will also make valid criticisms of many Commonwealth agencies and departments.”

Mr Morrison will promise a “renewed focus” on regulatory reform after noting that Coalition cuts to red tape saved an estimated $5.8 billion in the three years to 2016.

“Rather than setting targets for departments or government agencies, we’ll be asking the wider question from the perspective of a business looking, say, to open a mine, commercialise a new biomedical innovation, or even start a home-based, family business,” he will say.

“I urge the business people in this room and around Australia to engage with this process.

“Step one is to get a picture of the regulatory anatomies that apply to key sectoral investments. Step two is to identify the blockages. Step three is to remove them, like cholesterol in the arteries.”

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