Media & Speeches

Jennifer Westacott – Canberra Doorstop

BUSINESS COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA EXTRACTS FROM DOORSTOP WITH AIGROUP, AUSTRALIAN FARMERS FEDERATION, BHP, BLUESCOPE, MINERALS COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA.

After meeting with Coalition members on National Energy Guarantee
Canberra 26 June 2018
Topics: National Energy Guarantee, Company Tax
E&OE

Jennifer Westacott chief executive of the Business Council of Australia: We've had a very constructive meeting. Excellent questions. I think our message to the party room today was this, that this is a workable scheme. This is the most workable scheme we have seen for a long time. It brings together reliability, it brings together our emissions reduction obligations and it brings together the capacity to bring on new investment to drive down prices. But most importantly this allows us to have certainty. Uncertainty has been really hurting industry in this country. This gives us the certainty we have all been looking for. It's workable, it's doable, we need to get on with it so we can actually start to invest, drive down prices, give Australians security as well.

Question: What did you say to the backbench committee if this doesn't go ahead, in real examples, in real terms, what will happen?

Jennifer: Well I'll let other speakers talk on some of the specific examples. If it doesn't go ahead this is ground zero. We have been doing this for a decade and what we'll see is investment will start to go to other countries. What we'll see is upward pressure on prices because we can't get investment. What we'll see is intermittent power without that reliability standard. This brings together the things that we've been calling out for - reliability, affordability through extra investment and meeting our emissions obligations.

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Question: But there does still seem to be a stalemate here. Does the government need to make changes to the policy in order for it to go through to the next phase?

Jennifer: Well we think the policy is well designed. We think it gives you the flexibility you need. We think it's workable, we think it does the things we set as objectives. The objectives were to have reliability, the objectives were to meet our emissions reduction targets within that reliability and to start to bring on investment and bring down prices. Now we think the scheme in its current design, as Emma said, there's more work to do but a lot of detail has been released and business is saying, industry across the board is saying, we can make this work and achieve those objectives.

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Question: Bill Shorten has just announced that if elected Labor would repeal company tax cuts for companies earning less than $50 million. Are you concerned about that?

Jennifer: Well of course, I mean, that's a tax increase. We need this legislation to go through to make us competitive. We are falling behind and so here's another bit of uncertainty that the Opposition wants to put into the business environment. Another bit of economy wrecking public policy. To say to businesses, look, we are going to leave you hamstrung with one of the highest company tax rates in the world and expect that you can compete and employ people and pay them more. I mean, for the person who says that I stand for workers, well I'm sorry if you stand for workers, you have to stand for business. Because we employ 10 million of them and frankly, we have to get real about the economy we're living in, in a global sense. We have to be able to compete. We are not competitive and that is going to stifle our ability to pay people more, and employ more people and expand our operations. So, here's another bit of economy wrecking uncertainty from the Opposition. It's very disappointing.