CEDA made the comments in response to the Australian results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook which ranks and assesses 61 countries on economic indicators.
CEDA chief executive Professor Stephen Martin says, overall, business confidence is rising in Australia despite core economic indicators not improving, according to the survey by IMD, with Australia regaining one place this year, rising from 18 to 17, moving up the rankings for the first time after five years of decline.
On Research & Development, Professor Martin says overall economic performance improved slightly on the back of gains in rankings for international investment, R&D and employment.
But, according to Professor Martin, to support R&D, Australia needs “the right IT infrastructure and that is still an area of concern”.
“Australia improved in the technological infrastructure category from 33 to 26 but this seems to be largely due to the increasing number of broadband subscribers.
“Improving internet bandwidth speed still has a long way to go, with Australia dropping in the rankings from 26 to 39 which means despite the rollout of the NBN, other countries are getting better quicker.
“Even more alarmingly, Australia’s information technology skills have dropped from a ranking of 27 last year to 36 this year.”
On the overall economy, Professor Martin says the mining boom is over but “the slack is being picked up by other sectors so while our economy is not going as fast as in the previous decade we are still growing”.
“Overall economic performance improved slightly on the back of gains in rankings for international investment, R&D and employment. However, lower GDP growth and low inflation relative to other countries have meant we haven’t improved on core economic indicators.”
Professor Martin also points to another concerning area which he says has already had significant focus in mainstream media - property prices.
“The results of the WCY shows this is not just an issue for those seeking homes but also for those renting commercial premises with our ranking moving from 40 to 53 – making us one of the highest cost nations for commercial rental properties of the 61 countries assessed.
“For the apartment rental ranking Australia fell even further in the rankings dropping from 48 to 56.”