Business, union and community leaders have come away from a meeting with Malcolm Turnbull in a positive mood.


The gathering with the prime minister was described as a mini-summit, but it was more a case of the new government leadership listening to key stakeholders about the options to lift economic growth and create jobs.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer were also present.

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No firm decisions were taken at the three-hour meeting – a follow-up to a privately-sponsored reform gathering in August – but neither has anything been taken off the table, particularly regarding tax reform.

Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott lauded it as an outstanding meeting and a mature conversation that aimed to keep the community on board with much-needed reforms.

“It isn’t about taking stuff off the table and narrowing the options,” she told reporters after the meeting.

Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox described the meeting as “one step in a process”.

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“There will be continued engagement with government over this and we are all very encouraged by that” he told reporters.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said that while there were differences between the groups, there were also many areas of commonality.

“We all have one thing in common and that is it is all about growth,” he said.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said it was always useful for governments to be engaging with a broad cross-section of society.

“(But) held at this stage of the cycle is evidence that the last two years has been a wasted opportunity,” he told AAP.

CPA Australia boss Alex Malley, a strong critic of the government leadership under Tony Abbott, was disappointed that Mr Turnbull was relying on the eight attendees at the meeting as an apparent proxy for a balanced community representation.

“It is not possible to have an informed ‘summit’ in relation to the economy without strategic and precise input from taxation and superannuation experts,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund has released its annual assessment of Australia, saying declining investment in mining and a sharp fall in the terms of trade are posing challenges after a strong performance over the past two decades.

“Continued efforts to support aggregate demand and raise productivity will be critical in transitions to a broader-based and high-growth path,” the IMF said.

It expects the economy to grow from 2.5 per cent this year to three per cent in 2016, close to its long-term average.

But the Washington-based institution says that while the level of interest rates is “appropriately accommodative”, they may need to be cut further if the rebound disappoints.

Work for the dole “not working”

Young people who’ve been out of a job for long periods could work in small businesses under a bipartisan plan from business and community groups.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Council of Social Services have agreed to do “solid work” together on a jobs program after meeting in a mini-summit on economic reform in Canberra on Thursday.

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The program would ensure young people would be equipped with skills, training and experience, chamber chief Kate Carnell told reporters.

Ms Carnell said it was clear work-for-the-dole programs had not proven successful in training young people.

“We need a different approach in the (small business) sector that would give skills, training and experience.”

ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie said details of the program would be worked out soon before being put to government.

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