This speech, titled ‘Growing Social Prosperity in a Growth Economy’, was delivered by Business Council of Australia President Michael Chaney to the BCA 2007 Annual Dinner on 24 October 2007.
It’s almost inevitable today to begin any speech to the business community by saying Australia has never had it this good. The horizon of prosperity seems to stretch indefinitely into the distance. We’ve experienced some jolts and bumps along the way; but the economic shocks and deep uncertainties we were all accustomed to in the 1980s and 90s seem to have departed our shores – at least for the foreseeable future.
A couple of decades ago the language of prosperity was almost like a foreign language – hard to understand, let alone discuss with any fluency. Now, phrases like full employment, stock market highs and the commodities boom roll off the tongue. The language of prosperity is now the second language of many Australians.
And it’s a comfortable conversation to have – particularly at events such as this. Our companies and our employees represent a very fortunate part of the community. Across the board, jobs are plentiful, wages are high and individual wealth continues to rise.
And through higher business taxes, governments fund new and expanded programs of social support. There’s no doubt this is a golden age of prosperity – possibly the best of economic times Australia has experienced.
But in the midst of so much prosperity, it is easy to overlook the many Australians who continue to confront a vastly different reality. This is a world where economic opportunity is limited or non-existent, and social isolation a fact of daily life. For all the talk and mutual congratulations over economic prosperity, we need to remind ourselves of the other Australia.