Speech by Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott to the Committee for Sydney on 14 July 2011
The problems facing Sydney now are a mini-version of the risks we confront nationally.
There was once a view that Sydney would just keep growing and that its natural, economic and cultural advantages would mean a self-propelling momentum towards prosperity.
But that didn’t happen.
The failure to take Sydney in for maintenance and a regular overhaul have had real economic and social consequences.
Sydney’s contribution to GDP has fallen. New South Wales, once the strongest fiscal state in the federation, is now 4th on the list, the city is hamstrung by chronic congestion and the failure of services and infrastructure. A huge task for an incoming government that now has to strip down the engine and start again.
Things don’t just happen because we want them to. They happen because governments create the policy environment to unleash capital, productivity and innovation. This is the only way to raise our living standards.
Our sense at the BCA is that there is a good deal more common ground on these things than some politicians give credit for. It’s a matter of developing and promoting a persuasive case and then asking people to back it.
The Business Council of Australia approaches its reform agenda on this basis.