Productivity must be priority: Argus

AAP

Business community elder Don Argus says government should make productivity a top economic priority, and has warned about the impact of consumer debt on spending.

The former BHP Billiton chairman and National Australia Bank chief executive says government needs to focus on productivity in the current global economic climate.

"We need to encourage innovations and not stifle it through excessive oversight by government," Mr Argus said in a statement on Friday.

"We have built 20 years of solid economic wealth for all Australians through good productivity gains, flexible labour markets and the productive use of private, not public capital."

The respected business leader has previously slammed the federal government for what he's termed the "sloganeering" of modern political and economic debate.

He has also highlighted the need for better economic management and raising productivity.

Mr Argus also warned about the "real consequences of excessive debt".

"We are the third country in the world for consumer debt, and what so many people don't seem to understand is just how intrusive debt is on disposable income," he said.