Australia's leadership turmoil damages business confidence | Connect Asia

Australia's leadership turmoil damages business confidence

Australia's leadership turmoil damages business confidence

Updated 24 February 2012, 15:53 AEDT

One of Australia's most powerful business leaders has warned that Labor's leadership turmoil is damaging confidence in the Australian economy.

Graham Bradley, chairman of the HSBC bank and the Stockland property group, says important policy debate is being sidelined by the Rudd/Gillard showdown.

Presenter: Peter Ryan

Speaker: Graham Bradley, chairman of HSBC and Stockland

GRAHAM BRADLEY: Changes of leadership are destabilising. They affect public confidence and consumer confidence and they affect business confidence. And the fact that there's going to be a lot of distraction with federal ministers over coming months can't be helpful.

PETER RYAN: Kevin Rudd says that he wants to re-engage business, rebuild bridges with business. Is that something that you would welcome?

GRAHAM BRADLEY: We'd welcome any leader as we welcomed Julia Gillard's commitment to better consultation with business around business regulation and a better understanding of the challenges of business and the proper roles of the leadership of business in Australia and our ability to contribute as partners with government to the creation of future wealth for Australia.

PETER RYAN: In your previous role as president of the Business Council of Australia you clearly had negotiations/discussions with Kevin Rudd over the super mining profits tax. But are you convinced that his attitude has changed? Do you believe that Kevin Rudd can be a changed man?

GRAHAM BRADLEY: Oh I think everybody learns as they grow in their roles and responsibilities. I am sure that Mr Rudd will have taken away some valuable lessons from that particular part of his prime ministership.

PETER RYAN: Did he have an opportunity at that time to negotiate a solution that would have saved his prime ministership at the time if he had been open to advice?

GRAHAM BRADLEY: There are a lot of lessons I think can be learned from that example both by government and by business. And the primary lesson I think is that there needs to be much closer consultation on major reform initiatives that impact business wide and far between government and business as we go forward.

PETER RYAN: Is it clear now that the relationship between the Federal Government and business has gone downhill over the last year or so?

GRAHAM BRADLEY: Well there's been huge distractions haven't there over recent months at any rate. And it's our sense that a lot of the important policy matters have not received the undivided attention of important ministers that they deserve.

PETER RYAN: Once the ballot on Monday is out of the way, what are you expecting from whoever is the victor?

GRAHAM BRADLEY: We'd like to see a government that has a genuine commitment to working with business, large business and small business, ensure that we've got the most competitive economy and regulatory environment we can have so that Australia can face the challenges of international competition.

PETER RYAN: What about issues such as the carbon tax? Are you expecting in the event for example that Kevin Rudd might win or regardless of who wins that the carbon tax might need to be reviewed?

GRAHAM BRADLEY: I think it's a bit early to call what policies what might follow from any change in leadership should that occur.

But an increasing numbers of businesses are concerned now that the arrangements we've put in place in relation to carbon are uncompetitive on a world basis and this will add adversely to the impact of other cost pressures on many of our important industries.

So I think that is an issue that government, regardless of its leadership, will have to address over the next six and 12 months.

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