Business hopes for the best from Turnbull

News Story
- 1 Oct 2015 ( #738 ) - Australia
3 min read
Turnbull's appointment was greeted with optimism
Turnbull's appointment was greeted with optimism
Consumer confidence has taken a hit as the gloss from Malcolm Turnbull's ascension to the nation's top job starts to wear off.

The ANZ/Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence index fell 3.4% last week, after jumping 8.7% the previous week when Turnbull won the Liberal leadership and became prime minister.

ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan says the reversal in confidence is not surprising after the record bounce the previous week.

"While Turnbull's appointment was greeted with considerable optimism, the challenges facing Australian households remain front of mind and make it difficult to sustain a lift in confidence," he says.

The Business Council of Australia, in congratulating Turnbull on being elected as prime minister, welcomed his strong message "about building lasting prosperity through a more agile, innovative and creative nation".

BCA president Catherine Livingstone said all Australians should welcome Turnbull putting a stronger economy firmly at the heart of his plans, and rightly acknowledging the importance of sound policies which will lead to business confidence, which in turn will mean more jobs, and more opportunity for all Australians.

"For the Business Council, a stronger economy for all will require a 10-year plan including ambitious tax reform that supports growth and fairness, a new framework for a modern and competitive workplace relations system, and a pathway to a meaningful budget surplus off the back of redesign of programs to reduce spending growth.

"It will also require a sustained focus on building a more innovative and future-skilled economy so that Australians can take on the global challenges before us, and lift productivity to ensure we maintain high living standards, and a social safety net into the future," she said.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox described the leadership change as "a clear opportunity to reset its economic agenda".

"The new ministry now can focus on rejuvenating the national reform agenda in the year before the next election is due. Business and industry will be looking to the government to work to restore confidence and demand from a renewed focus on core economic objectives to boost competitiveness and productivity. There is also a hope that there will be political stability and cohesion through to the next election.

"Industry has a clear need from the government to concentrate on a reform agenda around developing a more competitive and robust tax system; infrastructure delivery; development of Australia's innovative capabilities; and a focus on assisting Australians develop the skills of the future," he said.

Meanwhile, the change of prime minister has elicited mixed reactions from the forklift sector.

Mike Slobe, general manager of Cascade Australia, says "whilst the change certainly seems to have been well received, it is probably too early to see any impact on business confidence".

Clark Equipment's Robert Hammond fears the recent political changes will "heighten the insecurity and instability in the market and, as such, will be detrimental to business confidence".

In particular, Hammond is concerned that the Hockey/Abbott small business package, which "was definitely a winner", may be scrapped.

"Bruce Billson was a great advocate as Minister for Small Business and his removal from this portfolio is a big hit to small business," he says.

Among the changes Slobe is watching for are an increase in infrastructure programs as a way to generate business confidence, tax reform and settling of the Free Trade agreements.

Hammond would like to see the new prime minster work on providing stability. "With stability will come confidence to increase investment. The recent destabilisation of the government culminating in the change in leadership and senior cabinet posts hits at this point and will (have an) effect in the short term.

"I would like to see confirmation of the policies connected with small business," he says.

Like Slobe, Hammond would also welcome the passing of the Free Trade Agreement with China.
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